March’s most-read: Japan, Walmart, pangasius

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
March 30, 2011

Curious what your fellow SeafoodSource readers are viewing? Here’s a rundown of the website’s five most-read stories and commentaries of March 2011:

5) And the winner is? In just over a month, we’ll find out. The finalists of the 11th annual Seafood Prix d’Elite new products competition were announced on 15 March. This year, 38 finalists representing 14 countries are vying for one of seven awards, including best new retail product and best new foodservice product. And three of last year’s six winners — Dish Hospitality, Heiploeg Group and Seachill — are participating in this year’s competition. The winners will be unveiled at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels on 3 May.

4) The controversy surrounding a measure transferring inspection of domestic and imported catfish — and potentially pangasius — from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture heated up on 7 March when U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced legislation to rescind the provision. It’s been more than two years since the measure became law as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, but the much-anticipated rule governing the provision was published by the USDA only in February. The U.S. catfish industry slammed the bill, but imported catfish and pangasius interests lauded it. Stay tuned, because it will take weeks, perhaps months, for this controversy to play out.

3) The world’s largest retailer made waves during last week’s International Boston Seafood Show when it unveiled, during a Marine Stewardship Council meeting, that it’s expanding its sustainable seafood purchasing policy, building upon the pledge it made in 2006. Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S. will require that all wild and farmed seafood be third-party certified by the MSC or the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices, or equivalent standards. The deadline is June 2012.

It’s not too late to check out last week’s news from Boston. SeafoodSource and SeaFood Business had six editors on site producing stories, commentaries, video and audio from the show floor and conference and meeting rooms. Click here for complete coverage of the three-day event.

2) SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Mike Urch’s criticism of a German TV program titled “The Pangasius Lie” turned a lot of heads. In his “WWF’s hatchet job on pangasius” commentary on 14 March, Urch ripped into the show and the World Wildlife Fund’s involvement in it, calling it so one-sided and biased that a seasoned journalist he knows referred to it as “killer journalism.” The commentary prompted a letter to the editor from Jose Villalon, managing director of the WWF aquaculture program, who clarifyied the organization’s commitment to sustainable aquaculture.

1) It will take years for Japan to recover from the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that rocked the country’s northeast region on 11 March, killing more than 11,000 people, as more than 16,000 people remain missing. As soon as the disaster struck, the thoughts and prayers of seafood professionals worldwide were with their colleagues in Japan. Three weeks later, we’re just beginning to assess the tragedy’s impact on the world’s largest single seafood market (Japan imported nearly USD 15 billion worth of seafood in 2008), as well as the global seafood trade. Obviously, seafood purchasing has slowed in Japan as the country gets back on its feet. But as time progresses, Japan’s reliance on imported seafood will grow to fill the void left by the domestic fisheries wiped out by the tsunami. SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Chris Loew, who’s based in Osaka, will continue to report on the matter.

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