Friday, January 15, 2010

Updated Monterey Bay Seafood Guide

The Monterey Bay Aquarium one of the driving forces behind sustainable seafood guides has just issued an updated list. Of particular interest is the downgrading of the Alaskan pollack fishery, and the the move of two farmed species: coho salmon, and shrimp. The changes do not come without outside criticism.
As reported today in a SeafoodSource.com article highlighting the issue, the ratings were not entirely agreeable to Greenpeace, even if they did acknowledge the efforts and integrity of the MBA. Greenpeace spokesperson John Hocevar applauded the MBA’s decision. “I have a lot of respect for the work that the MBA put into their pollock report, and for the scientific rigor behind the Seafood Watch program in general,” he said. “While we don’t agree on everything, the aquarium’s recommendations are a valuable tool for seafood consumers. The MSC, meanwhile, is increasingly becoming a source of frustration as they certify, and re-certify, more and more fisheries that have significant conservation concerns.”

I take some issue with the new rating of farmed coho, because as far I know it seems to apply to only one farm sweetspringsalmon.com. At this time they seem to be producing very small (under 2lbs) fish. I applaud the effort of course, but such small fish and the limited availability will serve to frustrate the consumer. Unfortunately this new rating opens a door for unscrupulous fish sellers to sell the lower rated, and more common open ocean farm raised coho salmon.

Farmed shrimp is also a very small US segment, I have not come across any with the exception of the defunct quasi-organic certified Ocean Boy farms , if anyone has information about any other sources for US farmed shrimp please let me know.

Perhaps both of these ratings will serve as a catalyst for further growth in these areas. As I have said before we must all face the fact that a growing amount of seafood must be farmed (responsibly) if we are to keep up with the demand. So I have to give the MBA credit in again being a leader. You can download a copy of the new guide here.

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