OCTOBER 19, 2006

Monterey Bay Aquarium -- Response to Seafood/Health Reports

Aquarium experts: Some wild-caught, farmed seafoods are better choices for the environment.

People who choose to eat more seafood because of its health benefits should also consider the environmental impact of the fishing and fish-farming practices that put the seafood on their plate, officials with the Seafood Watch program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium cautioned.The reminder comes following the Oct. 17 release of two studies by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and the Harvard School of Public Health, which concluded that there are health benefits for most people from substituting seafood for other animal protein in the diet.

“Seafood can be a healthy choice for people, but it has to be a healthy choice for the environment, too," said Jennifer Dianto, Senior Program Manager for the aquarium's Seafood Watch program.

“Much of the seafood on the market today is caught or farmed in ways that are not sustainable over the long term. The only way we can keep seafood in our diet is by making choices that preserve the abundance of wild fish populations and protect the habitats that support productive fishing grounds."

There are similar concerns about farmed seafood from aquaculture operations. George Leonard, the program's Science Manager adds, “Farmed seafood is an increasingly important source of protein worldwide." “But many aquaculture operations have yet to solve the problems that will guarantee sustainable growth into the future. That means assuring that fish-farming doesn't destroy critical coastal habitats needed by wild fish, generate unacceptable levels of pollution in coastal waters, or rely on catching wild fish to feed aquaculture stocks beyond the point where wild fish can keep up with the demand."

Since 1999, the aquarium's Seafood Watch program has released consumer pocket guides that help consumers choose seafood that is caught or farmed in sustainable ways. It has distributed more than 8 million pocket guides nationwide, including five regional guides, one national guide, and two pocket guides in Spanish (a West Coast regional guide and a national guide).

The aquarium also works with major seafood buyers to shift their purchases to sustainable seafood items.

“The choices we make as individual consumers and as businesses drive the seafood marketplace," Dianto said. “Our purchasing power can make all the a difference, by supporting fisheries and fish farms that are better for the environment, while at the same time relieving pressure on others that are not doing as well."

In just the last year, companies including retailing giant Wal-Mart and Compass Group North America, the largest food service company in North America, have announced plans to buy only seafood from sustainable sources.

Leonard heads a team of fisheries researchers at the aquarium who evaluate the most popular seafood items on the market and make consumer recommendations that each item is either a “Best Choice," “Good Alternative" or a species to “Avoid" based on whether it is caught or farmed in a sustainable manner.

The researchers evaluate each species on criteria that include: the level of bycatch observed (other fish and wildlife caught and killed accidentally while fishing for one species); other impacts from fishing methods (including damage to habitat needed by other ocean wildlife); and, for farmed species, the farming methods, and how well the fishery or aquaculture operation is managed.

“With nearly 75 percent of the world's fisheries either fully fished or overfished, these are critical issues when people make seafood buying decisions," Leonard said. “By using our Seafood Watch pocket guides, they can make choices based on the best available information and support environmentally friendly fisheries and aquaculture operations."

“We believe that seafood from sources, either fished or farmed, that can exist over the long-term without compromising species? survival or the health of the surrounding ecosystem is sustainable," he said. “And when consumers choose sustainable seafood, they can continue to enjoy seafood as part of a healthy diet."

More information and printable pocket guides are available at www.seafoodwatch.org. The results of the Institute of Medicine study on seafood and health can be found at http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3788/23788/37679.aspx.

The Harvard School of Public Health study can be found at http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/press/releases/press10172006.html.

The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean.


Events |  Food & Beverage International |  NutraFoodies |  California the Magazine
Home |  Food |  Wine |  Chefs |  Restaurants |  Advertisers |  Recipes
Travel |  Forager |  Who's News |  Directories |  Newsletter |  About Us |  Media Kit

©2006 Food&Beverage International
All rights reserved. | Contact Us |