Meal Planner

Meal Planner

Don't forget the fish! Make a weekly meal plan and grocery list using this printable planner before hitting the supermarket. Find four of our favorite new seafood recipes here.

Guides, Lists, Logs, Contradictions and Confusion

Let me start by saying we are not opposed to efforts to educate people about seafood sustainability. In fact sustainable seafood is the life blood of our community. It's important for consumers to understand that responsible members of the seafood community are the true stewards of sustainability.  And their work contributes to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) assessment that in this country about 80% of the stocks are sustainably maintained.

With that said... I must draw your attention to yet another confusing contradiction consumers face when using these sustainable seafood pocket guides and red lists.

I've told you ad nauseam about the fact that Greenpeace says Alaska pollock is about to disappear off the planet while their eco-warrior brethren say it should be part of your "best choices" list. And how Monterey Bay features "Aji" at the top of its "best choices" list but the asterisk next to it corresponds to a note suggesting consumers should "limit consumption due to concerns about mercury or other contaminants." And today there's more.

As part of a story on these sustainable seafood guides a local news report in Washington D.C. highlighted the "Four Fish You Should Never Sever." They interviewed a representative from Environmental Defense and explained the cards.

Then the report revealed the 4 fish to avoid according to The Endangered Fish Alliance. (Which is part of  Environmental Defence with a "c", a Canadian group)

On the list of fish you should never serve is swordfish. But if you look closely at the Alliance's entry on swordfish you will notice that they were kind enough to offer "sustainable alternatives" and included in their list of "sustainable alternatives" is "Tuna (long line caught...Bigeye [and] Yellowfin.)" If you then pull out your handy dandy Environmental Defense (with an "s", the American Group) sustainable seafood guide you'll find long line caught Bigeye and Yellowfin on its "worst choices" list.

So, let's get this right-- on the Environmental Defence (with a "c") list they're a good "sustainable alternative" and on the Environmental Defense (with an "s") list they're a "worst choice." I deal with this stuff all day, everyday and even I'm confused. (Tobias to the rescue.)

Oh and by the way, as an aside, NOAA lists swordfish, both Pacific and Atlantic, as fish stocks where, "population levels are high and no overfishing is occurring."

Gavin,

Not sure if you are aware, but Environmental Defence and Environmental Defense (now Environmental Defense Fund) are two different organizations. The former is a Canadian NGO while the latter is an American NGO.

http://www.environmentaldefence.ca/
http://edf.org/home.cfm

As far as the Alaskan pollock example, Greenpeace probably does not coordinate its fish recommendations with the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA), so there may be some differences. Also, "Aji" is on the "best choices" list of MBA due to its environmental performance, which takes into account five components of sustainability. The asterisk denotes a health concern according to a different methodology that is looking at contaminant and health information.

I hope this helps clear up your confusion!

Cheers,
Tobias

Tobias,

You make an interesting observation. Environmental Defence (with a “c”) is a Canadian Group while Environmental Defense (with an “s”) is an American group. Which raises the question… why would a reporter interview a representative from Environmental Defense (with an “s”) and then use a list from Environmental Defence (with a “c”)?

Perhaps the reporter was as confused as consumers might be? As you can see I have updated this entry to reflect this interesting, albeit confusing (ironic), new wrinkle in the sustainability guide saga.

To your other points, I think you are right on when you say, “Greenpeace probably does not coordinate its fish recommendations with the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA)” in fact I think they coordinate with very few folks on this type of thing and that just allows for yet another list with potentially conflicting information to make its way to the Web or into the press.

And as for the "Aji" and its asterisk that’s a perfect example of a group with an environmental health focus straying into the realm of public health. No matter what an aquarium says I think I’ll still take my medical advice from doctors and dietitians. What’s more, this past Monday, Edward Cassano, Deputy Director Center For the Future of the Oceans at Monterey Bay Aquarium said MBA would review arguments about removing health advice from its guides after a world-renowned Harvard cardiologist explained the problems with mixing sustainability and health messages.

As for MBA’s review based on “five components of sustainability” it is important to note those five components are of “environmental” sustainability. Sustainability as a whole stands on three legs; economic, environmental and social. So you can have 5 or 10 or 50 environmental components and still miss the full sustainability picture without examining the other two.

Thank you for writing. Your efforts to engage in this discussion are lauded and your efforts to clear up confusion are appreciated.

Thanks again.

Gavin

INDUSTRY SCOOP

  • 2014 New England Membership Dinner
    NFI would like to invite you to join us for our annual New England Membership Dinner on Wednesday, August 20 in Boston from 5:30-8:30pm at the Drydock Café. The cost is $74/per person.
  • GSMC Registration is Open!
    GSMC Registration is Open! The Global Seafood Market Conference is on January 27-29, 2015 at the Four Season Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. The majority of the NFI Committee/Council meetings will meet on January 26. If you have any questions, please contact Suzanne Arteaga, CMP at 703-752-8898 or sarteaga@nfi.org.