New Consumer Guides Available!

Seafood Watch’s new July-December 2014 guides are now available, which means it’s time to recycle your old ones. While it might look the same as this year’s earlier guide, there are small but significant changes.

Look for new “Best Choice” shrimp and prawn options, more “Good Alternative” U.S. snapper options, and the addition of sardines, canned crab and more.

And remember, the printed guide is just a small selection from our full list of recommendations. For the complete list visit Seafood Watch® online or download our free app.

Attention cat lovers: your cat food purchases can help support the Seafood Watch® program

There’s no question we love our ocean. And there’s no doubt we adore our pets. So as conscientious consumers who care about sustainable seafood, shouldn’t we give our furry friends the option to eat sustainably as well? As it turns out, sustainable seafood isn’t just for people anymore! 

In 2013, SHEBA® Entrées for Cats, in partnership with Seafood Watch, became the first mainstream cat food brand in the U.S. to offer responsibly-sourced fish entrees. SHEBA offers more than 10 varieties of responsibly-sourced whitefish, tuna, salmon and seafood options, an important first step in reaching the Mars Petcare global commitment to use only sustainably sourced fish by 2020. 

To  further demonstrate its commitment to healthy oceans and seafood for the future, through the end of the year SHEBA will make a $1* donation to Monterey Bay Aquarium for each purchase of specially-marked packages of SHEBA® Brand Monterey Bay Aquarium® Seafood Watch® Variety Packs from participating U.S. PetSmart® stores. Not only will your purchase of sustainably sourced cat food directly benefit the ocean, but it will also help support Seafood Watch’s science based recommendations and consumer and business education.

Look for specially marked SHEBA® Brand Monterey Bay Aquarium® Seafood Watch® Variety Packs at a PetSmart® near you!

*Up to $50,000

Learn more about SHEBA’s commitment to sustainable seafood.  

New Recommendations Include an Update to Dungeness Crab
Seafood Watch has reassessed the California Dungeness crab fishery as part of a larger review of West Coast Dungeness crab fisheries. The resulting “Good Alternative” recommendation is a change from the previous “Best Choice” recommendation.

The fishery hasn’t changed negatively, rather the reassessment includes new information about bycatch in the fishery and uses the new Seafood Watch scoring criteria. Currently, there is no scientific stock assessment for Dungeness crab, which makes it difficult to determine whether removing such large quantities of crab from the population is sustainable. There are also known gear interactions with endangered humpback whales in California, Oregon and Washington. Though these interactions are rare, their impact is unknown.

While none of the above concerns are significant enough to warrant an “Avoid” recommendation, the “Good Alternative” recommendation is consistent with other crustacean fisheries which don’t have scientific stock assessments.

View the Seafood Watch recommendation for West Coast Dungeness crab

Sustainable Wild Caught Seafood Recommendations Streamlined at Whole Food Markets® Nationwide 

These days the search for sustainable seafood can seem like a daunting task. And for environmentally conscious consumers it usually entails consulting the Seafood Watch consumer guide or app, reading package labels or talking with the fishmonger to find out where and how a particular seafood item was caught or farmed.

However, since 2010, Whole Foods Market customers have been able to buy wild caught seafood with confidence, knowing that their items had already been vetted against sustainability criteria from either Seafood Watch or The Safina Center (formerly Blue Ocean Institute). Earlier this month, we joined our partners Whole Foods Market and The Safina Center to announce that after four years of partnership, The Safina Center would now use our science-based methodology and that together we would  offer consumers consistent recommendations on wild caught fisheries around the world.

Not only will you now see Seafood Watch and The Safina Center at seafood counters in Whole Foods Markets from coast to coast, but you will also likely see some new environmentally friendly seafood options.  Streamlining our sustainability criteria and combining our research efforts grows our capacity to evaluate more species and fisheries.   This means a greater number of recommendations and more environmentally responsible options for consumers and businesses.

A larger number of seafood recommendations combined with the buying power of businesses like Whole Foods Market creates greater economic incentives for positive change.  Fishermen from better environmentally performing fisheries will find greater access to markets, and those fisheries still improving will have a clear economic incentive to continue that journey.

We are excited to be growing our partnership with Whole Foods Market and The Safina Center.   And we are even more excited that our joint efforts will provide additional resources, enabling consumers and businesses to use their buying power to make choices for healthy oceans.

Trash Fish Dinner, Great Lakes Style

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Buffalo fish, lake drum and mullet were center of plate at this week’s Trash Fish Dinner in Cleveland, Ohio. A collaboration between Chef Douglas Katz of fire food and drink and Chef Jonathon Sawyer from The Greenhouse Tavern and the very-soon-to-open Trentina, the dinner celebrated six species of fish that don’t often get this sort of attention — but clearly should.

Doug and Jonathon are Seafood Watch spokespeople, helping to raise awareness about environmentally friendly seafood with their customers, colleagues and seafood distributors. Along with our partners at Catanese Classic Seafood and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Forest City is well positioned to do their part for healthy oceans. 

Congrats to Jonathon, Doug and their amazing teams for showing us again that sustainable seafood can be mighty delicious!

Human Rights in the Seafood Industry

The public, industry and media are becoming increasingly aware of the human rights abuses that occur in supply chains throughout the world, including seafood supply chains.  Seafood Watch assesses the environmental sustainability of fisheries and fish farms, and though our scientific assessments do not incorporate social issues, we acknowledge that addressing human rights abuses globally is critical to ensuring the long term viability of the industry. 

Who’s Working on the Issue

The following non-profit organizations are working on these issues and we encourage you to reach out to them to learn more about their work and available resources.  We encourage consumers to consider the information available regarding both social and environmental issues affecting the seafood supply chain and make decisions that reflect their personal values.

Environmental Justice Foundation

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is a UK- based non-profit organization working internationally to protect the environment and defend human rights.

Fair Trade USA

A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.  Fair Trade USA is adapting its certification process to apply to fisheries in the global South.

Fishwise

FishWise is a non-profit conservation organization that promotes the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems by providing innovative market-based tools to the seafood industry.  In 2014, FishWise released a comprehensive white paper on human rights issues in the seafood industry, which can be found here.

Humanity United

Humanity United is a foundation committed to building peace and advancing human freedom.  Humanity United leads and supports efforts to lift up the voices and will of people, ensure good governance and the rule of law, and engage markets and businesses as a force for chance.

International Labor Organization (ILO)

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN).  The ILO is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that labour peace is essential to prosperity.

Solidaridad Network

Solidaridad is an international organization dedicated to responsible food production to feed the growing world population and to providing the world with an alternative to fossil fuels like oil and gas.

Verité

Verité is a US—‐based nonprofit consulting, training, research and advocacy organization that works around the world with companies, workers and other stakeholders to improve supply chain labor conditions across all sectors of the global economy, including seafood.

Helping businesses become ocean stewards and change agents

While Seafood Watch is probably best known for our consumer guide and mobile app, a large segment of our work focuses on building relationships with businesses and helping them make environmentally responsible decisions in the seafood they source and sell.

We’re seeing a growing number of businesses using their market influence to affect positive change up and down the supply chain. By educating their clients, customers and suppliers about the importance of sustainable seafood, these businesses not only become powerful agents of change, but they set themselves apart in the marketplace. Several of these businesses were profiled in a recent TriplePundit.com article “Businesses as Educators, Change-Makers and Ocean Advocates” written by our business outreach manager.

If you’re a restaurant or business owner, learn more about our business program and the tools available to help you make sustainable choices.

If you’re a consumer, we encourage you to support restaurants and businesses that have made commitments to sustainable seafood for the future. View lists of our restaurant partners and business partners

Six west coast rockfish species added to Seafood Watch “Good Alternative” list

Consumers, chefs and suppliers now have additional sustainable seafood options to choose from on the west coast! The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) today announced its certification of 13 species caught by the west coast groundfish trawl fishery in the waters off of Washington, Oregon, and California. Since the MSC eco-certification label benchmarked as equivalent to at least a Seafood Watch “Good Alternative,” the 13 newly MSC-certified groundfish species caught in the west coast fishery now also carry our “Good Alternative” (yellow) rating.

This means that several species we previously listed as “Avoid” are now available to consumers as a sustainable option, including several species of rockfish: Chilipepper rockfish, longspine thornyhead, shortspine thornyhead, splitnose rockfish, widow rockfish and yellowtail rockfish.

These federally managed fisheries were able to earn MSC certification - and our corresponding “Good Alternative” rating - after notable improvements in recent years. In the past decade, stock assessments were conducted on more species, catch of overfished species was reduced, closures were enacted to protect vulnerable habitat, and quotas were put in place that better take uncertainty into account.

The MSC certification doesn’t cover all species of west coast rockfish, so for those other species we maintain separate recommendations. We’re in the process of updating our scientific report covering the entire west coast groundfish trawl fishery.

We encourage consumers to buy rockfish species certified by the MSC or certain species caught with handlines in the Pacific, California, Oregon and Washington.

View the full list of rockfish recommendations.

This World Oceans Day, give back to the ocean by promising to do at least one thing in your life to help  keep it healthy. Pick a promise and post a selfie on social media to share how you’re doing your part for our ocean. (Hint: A selfie of you holding a Seafood Watch guide would be PERFECT.)

You can get out in your community for World Oceans Day, check out some celebration ideas, or pick a promise. Take a photo out helping your local community, or at one of the hundreds of events happening around the globe. Or, you can make a promise to do something in your everyday life to help the ocean.

Serving Up Inspiration

Culinary spokesperson and Blue Ribbon Task Force member Chef Rick Moonen joined the Aquarium’s Teen Conservation Leaders during last week’s Cooking for Solution event to talk about shared passions — the future of sustainable food and healthy oceans.