Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sustainable Certification Benefits The Oceans

U.S. Foodservice and the Marine Stewardship Council(MSC), two months ago announced the introduction of 28 new MSC certified sustainable seafood products to the U.S. Foodservice Harbor Banks® brand.

U.S. Foodservice, one of the nation’s largest broadline food distributors is
the first foodservice distributor to offer products that carry the blue MSC eco-label. The MSC eco-label indicates to buyers that the seafood item comes from a
fishery that is sustainable and environmentally responsible. The MSC has a
stringent and widely respected international standard for assessing wild-capture
fisheries and the traceability of seafood. US Foodservice MSC Certified Announcement

''Chefs are thought leaders in the industry; they have an influence beyond their own restaurants,'' says Ken Peterson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch.

Seafood Watch publishes pocket guides for consumers (see box). Of greater impact, it has gotten big food-service companies like Aramark to use more sustainable seafood.
And then there's Wal-Mart, which now sells only certifiably sustainable seafood. The retail giant, Peterson says, ``is going to Asia and telling shrimp farmers what they need to do to sell shrimp to Wal-Mart.''

''Certification is the way,'' says Polita Glyn, head of the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, which gives fellowships to researchers, lawyers, writers and others in the field.

In the same way that organic certification fueled demand for meat and produce raised without chemicals, Glyn, Peterson and other experts believe sustainability certification will bring market forces to bear on behalf of the oceans.
''You don't need a postgraduate degree in marine ecology,'' says Peterson.
The benchmark program is run by the London-based Marine Stewardship Council. It's MSC-certified seafood that Wal-Mart sells. Looking for the MSC label takes the pain out of being ethical.

Finding it, however, isn't an easy matter -- at least not yet. ”A spokeswoman for Whole Foods Market said all the seafood the company sells is sustainable, yet at its Red Road store I could find only four MSC-certified species in the big seafood section. And one of them, wild salmon, cost more than $30 a pound -- four or five times the price of farm-raised.” Said ENRIQUE FERNANDEZ in his article Sea Change: The Quest For Sustainable Living.

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