Tag Archives: Seafood

How Sustainable is your Supermarket’s Seafood Case?

sustainability rankings of seafood retailers 2013

ImageCredit: Greenpeace, from "Carting Away the Oceans 2013" Report

Last week, Greenpeace USA released the seventh edition of their popular Carting Away the Oceans report, which ranks the sustainable seafood performance of the nation’s 20 largest supermarket chains. Industry leaders like Wegmans (a former EDF partner on salmon and shrimp sourcing), Whole Foods and Safeway once again scored in the top five, while Winn Dixie, Publix and Supervalu perennially find themselves at the bottom of the rankings.

This year’s report places extra emphasis on the ways that these companies approach pressing conservation policy issues, such as the approval of genetically-modified salmon, the advancement of industry-wide seafood traceability, and catch methods for canned tuna. Read More »

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Seafood Selector helps you have your hake (and eat it too)

Environmental Defense Fund recently released the latest version of its popular Seafood Selector, a tool to help make consumers aware of critical ocean conservation issues through the fish that they and their families eat. Today I want to take a moment to remember what life was like in 2001, when our first version came out as a small black-and-white paper cutout in the organization's quarterly member newsletter. (I know it’s hard to believe, but most people still received their environmental news by snail mail back in those days).

Back then, most people still didn’t have cell phones, and those that did just kept them in their gloveboxes for emergencies. I was a graduate student at the University of Hawaii, studying shark ecology and physiology. Even as a young marine biologist, I was largely unaware of the impacts of our personal choices on the health of the oceans.

Raising consumer awareness of ocean conservation issues was no easy task 12 years ago – and is still a challenge today – given the complexity of how most fish makes it to our plates. For example, here are some interesting facts you might not know about the U.S. seafood market: Read More »

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Support American Fishermen: Fish for a different dish

monkfish

Photo Credit: Nate Gray/flickr
Monkfish, aka American goosefish, eats way better than it looks.

When it comes to seafood, we  are creatures of narrow habit. The average American eats about 15 pounds of seafood each year  (well below the global average for coastal nations), almost 60% of which is either shrimp, canned tuna or salmon. That number jumps to more than 80% if you include "whitefish" like pollock, tilapia and cod.

So when one of these few items becomes overfished, too expensive or less available, the market usually just tries to pass off some other species in its place.

For example, 20 years ago, no one knew what a slimehead or American goosefish was. But when Atlantic cod fisheries crashed, low-value orange roughy and monkfish slowly gained in popularity and are now staples on restaurant menus – even though most people have no idea what the actual fish look like. What started out as worthless bycatch (also known as trash fish) that usually got dumped overboard will now routinely run you $10/lb or more in the market.

Unfortunately, Atlantic cod populations off New England are actually faring even worse today. We recently learned thatfishing quotas for 2013 will be slashed by almost 80% in certain areas compared to last year. There are several factors at play, among them decades of intense fishing pressure, ecosystem shifts and climate change. Nevertheless, we should still support New England fishermen by purchasing what little local cod makes it to market in 2013.

But how can we ensure that this iconic fishery – and others like it on the Pacific coast – don’t disappear quietly in the night? Our experience with orange roughy and monkfish provides one important answer: Previously unfamiliar fish can win the hearts of seafood lovers and help strengthen local fisheries. Read More »

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Eating with the Ecosystem: Georges Bank


Eating with the EcosystemEating with the Ecosystem is a project created to help consumers learn about the marine waters from which New England seafood is harvested.  The project aims to build upon related efforts focused on sustainable seafood and eating local by urging consumers to think about the suite of species living together in a given place, and their ecological interactions and fluctuations in abundance.  In other words, their mission is to grow awareness of individual species to awareness of the entire ecosystem.

One important message of Eating with the Ecosystem is that consumers should focus on healthy stocks so that we benefit from abundance while allowing other resources to recover.  Today, this means being willing to try species that are unfamiliar to many seafood lovers.  As we work to recover well-known species like cod and flounder, species such as dogfish, skates, hake, pollock and redfish present opportunities to offset lost revenue for fishermen, and for diners to try some new tastes.  Fortunately, based on the results of a poll conducted collaboratively by EDF and the Center for Marketing Research at UMass-Dartmouth, consumers seem willing to give those species a chance. Read More »

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Who caught tonight's seafood dinner?

Jason DeLaCruz, a fisherman with Gulf Wild, holds grouper caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Fishermen provide detailed tracing information for the fish to market them to high-end chefs and retailers. Photo by Rich Taylor.

In E&E Greenwire today, reporter Allison Winter writes about a seafood label called Gulf Wild, which puts a barcode on fish from the Gulf of Mexico’s catch share program. Consumers can use that barcode to find out where exactly the fish was caught and the name of the fishermen who landed it. Fishermen involved in Gulf Wild also sign a “conservation covenant” and consumers can feel better knowing that the catch share program has successfully ended commercial overfishing. In addition, fishermen are no longer required, as they were under the old regulations, to toss good fish overboard if they accidentally catch it on the wrong day.

The article also discusses how catch shares have played a role in increasing seafood traceability for chefs and ultimately consumers:

“Some fishermen in the program also credit a new management system for creating the opportunity to start the program… One result, according to those involved with the fishery, is that fishermen have been more willing to cooperate with each other and have the time and incentive to fish more carefully and find new ways to market their fish.”

“(Catch share) advocates — including chefs, some environmental groups and fishermen involved in the programs — say they create a stable environment for fish and fishermen and a steadier supply for the market. Rick Moonen, a renowned chef and advocate for sustainable seafood, is among them. Moonen supports catch shares for the environmental benefits but said his business also benefits with better-quality fish. Fishermen in a catch share can work more slowly and try to get a premium for fish that were handled carefully.

‘Sometimes, with other fisheries, you end up with a beat-up fish, and as a chef you're thinking, this sucks," Moonen said. "I would rather pay another dollar a pound and get a better fish. Boom, there you go, catch shares make that possible.’”

Read the full article here

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'Fish on Fridays': Gulf of Mexico Grouper

Grilled Grouper

Grilled Grouper over Arugula & orange salad. Photo credit: Food Network/Emeril Lagasse

Grouper are delicious fish that are harvested in both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf of Mexico, these fish are managed under a catch share program, where species like red and black grouper have healthy populations. John Schmidt, a fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico who fishes for grouper, tells us about his experiences in the fishery and how it has changed for the better under a catch share. Finally, we are sharing a delicious and healthy recipe for grilled grouper over an arugula and orange salad.

Gulf of Mexico Grouper/Tilefish IFQ Program

The Grouper-Tilefish IFQ program was implemented in January of 2010. Prior to this program, commercial grouper and tilefish were managed with limited access fishing permits, trip limits, size limits, closed seasons and catch limits. These management measures resulted in overcapitalization of the fishery and subsequent early closures. Fishermen were going bankrupt and fish stocks were depleted. Since the fishermen have been operating under a catch share in this fishery, the stocks are rebuilding, discards of dead fish are down, the race to fish has been eliminated, and fishermen are able to grow their businesses in an industry that was previously struggling. Read More »

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