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Point of View: Michael Sutton

VP & director, Center for the Future of the Oceans, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, Calif.

Property of SeaFood Business magazine

November 01, 2008

Today, the world's marine fisheries are considered fished to the limits of sustainability. Populations of large predators such as sharks and swordfish have declined by 90 percent due to unsustainable and destructive fishing practices.

Governments have been unable to reverse these trends through public policy alone. Building powerful commercial incentives for ocean conservation is one promising approach to improve marine fishery management. The sustainable seafood movement harnesses market forces and the power of consumer choice in favor of sustainable fisheries.

Sustainable seafood programs show consumers how their choices make a difference to the health of the oceans. Pocket guides help consumers make better choices when shopping and dining. Over the past seven years our Seafood Watch program has distributed tens of millions of pocket guides and successfully raised the salience of the issue among seafood lovers. More detailed information is available for chefs and corporate seafood buyers. All levels of the seafood supply chain are involved: consumers, chefs, wholesalers, retailers, culinary school faculty and students and foodservice providers.

Large-volume seafood buyers have committed to sourcing their seafood only from sustainable fisheries, and more companies are signing up every day. The biggest challenge facing the movement is to ensure that supplies of sustainable seafood meet the growing demand. To that end, the Marine Stewardship Council is ramping up the pace of assessments that may lead to certified sustainable fisheries. Only by working together can we can transform the seafood industry so that sustainable fisheries become the new commercial norm.

 

 

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