« November 2009 Table of Contents
Editor's Note: A maturing relationship
By Fiona Robinson, Associate Publisher, Editor
November 01, 2009
Seafood is becoming more sustainable, according to the
Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA). This is the first good news I've
heard since the depressing recession took hold last year. As
this issue went to press, the aquarium released "State of
Seafood: Turning the Tide," a report that discusses the
progress made over the past several years in protecting ocean
ecosystems, better managing fisheries and fish farms, and
advancing the sustainable seafood movement.
"We know what we need to do," says Julie Packard, the
aquarium's executive director, "and the key players are working
more closely than ever to do what needs to be done."
This work is documented in this issue's Top Story, Peas in a
pod. Associate Editor James Wright explores how the
relationship between seafood buyers and non-governmental
organizations has evolved as they've worked together to reach
sustainable seafood purchases. It's amazing how a few years can
change the discussions dramatically.
Those relationships have certainly fueled more industry
travel: Right now there are more seafood sustainability
conferences on the calendar than scientific conferences or
trade shows. For example, at the same time the MBA announced
its report, the Sustainable Seafood Multi-Stakeholder Summit
was held in San Francisco. Then factor in that the Seafood
Choices Alliance is gearing up for its Seafood Summit in Paris
in January, and conferences regarding sustainability are being
planned for the International Boston Seafood Show in March.
Clearly a lot is happening on this front.
But there is still a lot left to do. One of the problems
some buyers have with the MBA's Seafood Watch program is the
broad brush strokes taken with regard to farmed salmon and
imported shrimp. These are two of the most popular species
consumed per-capita in the United States - species that the
Seafood Watch program says to avoid. The aquarium is asking
chefs and others to take part in a "Save Our Seafood" campaign
that is akin to the "Give Swordfish a Break" effort of a decade
ago. As part of this newest campaign, participants are asked to
not sell farmed salmon, Asian farmed tilapia, imported shrimp
and a host of other species that are on the Seafood Watch avoid
list. While this may be easy for upscale chefs to hitch their
wagon to, it's not so clear cut for the buyers at Darden, Long
John Silver's and other big companies. If all the farmed salmon
purchasers switched to Arctic char as a replacement, what would
happen to the farming of that species? Farmed species typically
ramp up production to meet demand. Taking two steps forward is
better than not starting down the path at all, but buyers
clearly have a whole other aspect to their job ensuring the
sustainability of their purchases.
The aquarium will update its report biennially, and I know
many folks, myself included, will be eager to see if progress
can be maintained.
Congratulations to Mark Sussman at Best Food Stuff in
Norwood, Mass., the winner of the 2009 SeaFood Business
Processor Survey Sweepstakes (the results of the survey were in
the October issue)! Sussman was awarded a $100 American Express
gift card. Thank you to all who participated in the survey.