Aquarium launches certification program

Published on
April 2, 2013

Mitchell’s Fish Market in the Tampa, Fla., area will be among the restaurants that will soon be sporting a new sustainable seafood logo.

The Tampa-based Florida Aquarium recently soft-launched its Seafood Now sustainability program with partners that include Mitchell’s Fish Market, The Columbia, Parkshore Grill, 400 Beach, and Mise en Place. Sweetbay Supermarket, which carries MSC-certified seafood, is also a partner in the Seafood Now program and will likely utilize its educational materials in the future.

Companies partnered with Seafood Now take a “pledge,” in which they agree not to sell or serve seafood on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch “red list” and instead use seafood on the “green” and “yellow” list.

“We are trying to get consumers to understand that there are many choices available,” Debbi Stone, vice president of education at the Aquarium, told SeafoodSource. The Aquarium is open to working with any company, large or small, that wants to participate and follow the guidelines.

“We are looking at Seafood Now as a true partnership program. We are trying to be a clearinghouse of information,” Stone said.

To that end, restaurants are helping Florida Aquarium executives refine Seafood Now’s pledge guidelines. “The reason we wouldn’t want to be solely responsible for a pledge like that is because we don’t run a restaurant,” Stone said.

For now, Florida Aquarium executives are relying on the Seafood Watch guidelines, particularly for the Southeast United States, because the organization already has a long established relationship with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Plus, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has conducted extensive research on sustainable fisheries, according to Stone. “They have the manpower to look at different fisheries and data; we don’t have the resources for that right now,” Stone said.

Once restaurant partners are approved in the program, they will be able to use the Seafood Now logo on their menus. The Aquarium plans to have at least 10 signed pledges from restaurants by the end of this year.

The program officially launches on June 15.

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