IBSS boston 2009 sign

Attaboy, Sen. John McCain. Earlier this week you put into rather strong words what many voices on this website have long felt — that switching catfish-inspection oversight to the U.S. Department of Agriculture is an unnecessary, costly and potentially harmful move. At the heart of it, asking taxpayers to fund a program that would essentially remove an affordable protein with a good safety record from the market during a down economy makes little to no sense. Seems the old gunslinger still has a few bullets left in the chamber.

The Marine Stewardship Council reported that consumers in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are snapping up more sustainable seafood products than ever. Consumer awareness of the group’s eco-label, and of sustainability in general, is growing. However, credit for this progress is due more to European retailers that have embraced the MSC and the products it has certified sustainable and well managed.

Speaking of retailers, Costco made a smart move recently by adopting a sustainable seafood policy that places emphasis on responsible sources of farmed shrimp, salmon and tilapia, as well as canned tuna. The usually tight-lipped club store is a trendsetter, even though it wasn’t first to the party on seafood sustainability. Costco’s product specs are known to be strict and even requested by other retailers. But will they follow in Costco’s footsteps on environmental matters? Check out Christine Blank’s What’s in Store feature in the upcoming April issue of SeaFood Business for more.

Applause is also due to suppliers like Princes, the No. 1 canned-tuna brand in the UK, which committed to stop using fish aggregate devices (FADs) and other indiscriminate catch methods. Greenpeace, which has claimed responsibility for many changes on the water and on store shelves, claimed victory yet again. Perhaps they’d get a greater level of cooperation and be given more credit by the industry for said changes if they stuck to diplomatic campaign strategies (i.e. retailer surveys and reports like “Carting Away the Oceans”) instead of vandalism and other forms of disruptive activism.

One last reminder about the seafood-fraud conference I’m moderating at the Boston Seafood Show, which should be informative and entertaining. Truth in Tare panelists come from different sectors of the industry and will share their expertise in seafood species that are commonly adulterated for false profits, such as shrimp, squid and scallops. You must be pretty tired of seeing seafood fraud in the headlines, right? Discussion about fraud needs to be conducted out in the open if there’s any hope of ending it.
(To attend the seminar, participants must hold a Gold or Silver Passport as part of their registration. Click here to register for a Passport.)

This has been a long, cold, rough winter for much of the United States, and our office in Portland, Maine, is evidence of that. A couple storms ago (I lost count), our building’s roof leaked and several rooms suffered significant damage. So did our SeaFood Business magazine library. Most of our old issues, which, surprisingly we only have a handful of or in many cases just one copy, were destroyed. A feature in the magazine we introduced last year, called ThrowBacks, takes a look at old stories that still have relevance today. But without back issues it will be difficult to continue. Many companies have told us that they keep old issues on hand for reference. If you are in possession of old issues of SeaFood Business, especially from 1981 to 1995, we’d like to borrow them, scan the editorial pages and then send them back to you. Write to us at if you think you can help. Thanks!


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