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New recommendations for sustainable seafood
Monday,18 January,2010 16:44:33
“Nothing is permanent except change.” – Heraclitus
Change is a constant in living systems. That’s why the science team with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program updates the research reports that underpin our sustainable seafood recommendations.
We revise our recommendations to take into account the best, most current information. That’s true for wild-capture fisheries as well as aquaculture processes.
We release updated Seafood Watch recommendations every six months, in January and in July. We’ll occasionally release research reports at other times, especially for species of interest to major seafood buyers with whom we work. That information is added to our Web site immediately, and incorporated in recommendations on our pocket guides, mobile site and iPhone application at the earliest opportunity.
Our January 2010 updates reflect a few key changes. Three involve aquaculture methods that will increase the supply of sustainable farmed seafood as they’re adopted more widely by the industry. The fourth raises ecological concerns about the Alaska pollock fishery, the largest commercial fishery in the United States – concerns that we believe the management system for the fishery is well positioned to address.
Our revised recommendation for Alaska pollock moves it from a “Best Choice” to a “Good Alternative.” Under the Seafood Watch program, a “Good Alternative” is considered a sustainable choice. We continue to recommend Alaska pollock to consumers and to the major seafood buyers with whom we work.
We’re confident that there is an effective management regime in place to address the concerns we’ve raised. We are also confident that the pollock industry will be an active participant in addressing the concerns our report identifies.
It’s important that the fleet and fisheries managers take into account the role pollock play in the Bering Sea ecosystem. Our report identifies one critical concern: the amount of bottom contact associated with the fishery, and its impact on ecosystems that support other marine life. The full report and all the issues it raises is available online.
Pollock is certified to Marine Stewardship Council standards for sustainability, and MSC-certified fisheries are currently consistent with Seafood Watch criteria for both “Best Choice” and “Good Alternative” seafoods. Pollock was and remains a good option in our eyes.
I’m very pleased that our research identified three new “Best Choice” recommendations for aquaculture species raised in the U.S.: shrimp, freshwater prawns and freshwater-farmed coho salmon. All are produced using closed systems that minimize pollution and escapes.
The salmon recommendation is significant. It marks the first time we’ve given a “Best Choice” recommendation for any salmon farming method.
Right now, only one salmon farm is using this approach, and most of its production is going to a few major buyers. I’m very hopeful that the ecological – and economic – success of this model will inspire other aquaculture operators, and that we’ll see several more sustainable aquaculture operations coming on line in the future.
What do you think about SeafoodWatch's revised recommendations for Alaskan pollock and "Best Choice" recommendations for aquaculture species in the U.S.?
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