Burlington, VT – City Market has partnered with FishWise, a non-profit organization focused on the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems, to develop and implement a new sustainable seafood program.
“Our goal is to source more sustainable seafood and share “Best Choice” information with customers to help them make informed decisions. We’re excited to work with FishWise to help us attain those goals,” says Clem Nilan, City Market’s General Manager.
Through its new seafood program, City Market has strengthened its commitment to offering customers sustainable seafood by improving sourcing, staff training and educational materials for customers. Seafood sourced through the program will now bear a “Best Choice” tag, indicating that they come from well-managed sources that minimize the environmental impacts of harvesting or farming, according to the scientific criteria of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. City Market’s Meat & Seafood Department staff have also undergone extensive training to support the new program, meaning customers can feel comfortable asking any questions about the origin, quality and type of seafood at the seafood counter.
“FishWise is excited to work with City Market in highlighting the most sustainable seafood options for its dedicated and conscientious customers,” William Wall, Business Project Manager for FishWise said. “More than 4,000 daily visitors count on City Market for the best in conventional, organic and local products and we are very proud to help them make informed choices.”
The addition of a sustainable seafood program to City Market is an extension of existing commitments to the environment including the solar panels on their roof, updated and energy efficient LED lighting throughout the store, and a reduction of waste sent to the landfill through composting and recycling projects.
The agreement between City Market and FishWise is consistent with the Common Vision for Environmentally Sustainable Seafood. The Common Vision is an ambitious but realistic guide to environmentally responsible seafood for businesses. It was developed by more than fifteen of North America’s leading ocean conservation organizations.
About City Market, Onion River Co-op
The Onion River Co-op is a consumer cooperative, with over 8,600 members, selling wholesome food and other products while building a vibrant, empowered community and a healthier world, all in a sustainable manner. Located in downtown Burlington, Vermont, City Market provides a large selection of local, natural and conventional foods, and thousands of local and Vermont-made products. Visit City Market, Onion River Co-op online at www.CityMarket.coop or call 802-861-9700.
As the global human population continues to rise, the world’s appetite for seafood steadily increases. However, the oceans’ supply is becoming exhausted. For us humans to continue feasting on the delights of seafood, methods of producing seafood are having to change, with the role of fish farming, aka aquaculture, becoming ever more important. As we make the shift from consuming predominantly wild caught seafood to farmed, we are addressing engineering feats that will hopefully be able to provide food for generations to come. The documentary ‘Fish Meat’ takes an in depth look at the different techniques currently employed by the aquaculture industry and the challenges we are facing as production levels increase.
Dr. Ted Caplow, environmental engineer, and Dr. Andy Danylchuk, fish ecologist, collaborate with filmmaker Joe Cunningham as they travel to Turkey and explore a variety of fish farming methods. As we approach the inevitable of farmed seafood being the primary means of seafood production, it is a struggle for consumers to know what to eat. The ‘Fish Meat’ team visits five farming operations as a way to illustrate the different options, in an objective light.
The first farm they visit is a high-density sea bass farm where the fish are suspended in large pens in the open ocean and feed on pellets. To produce one-pound of fish, three to four-pounds of feed is needed. This operation relies on wild fish from South America for the pellets and net-pen production has several inherent environmental risks, such as the risk of fish escaping to the wild, fish waste polluting surrounding water bodies and diseases from farmed fish spreading to wild populations.
The most high-tech operation looked at was a bluefin tuna ranch. Using the ‘ranching ‘ technique, this highly prized fish is first caught in the wild then grown to market size in open net pens. The fish eat only a fraction of the feed before it passes through the net and settles on the seafloor, where it attracts surrounding wildlife looking for a free meal. This raises concerns over the spread of disease and bacteria and, because the fish are caught before they are able to spawn, there are concerns that this farming technique could negatively impact the future generations of tuna.
They then explore an inland seabass farm that uses saltwater drawn from a local spring and a trout farm that uses the same recycled water for several different stages of the operation. These methods cause less impact on the environment than the net-pen seabass and ranched tuna, however, the feed still relies on wild fish input.
Lastly, an inland carp operation is presented that applies some centuries-old farming methods. A local windmill powers the tanks’ operational systems, the feed is locally-grown algae, and the fish waste is used as fertilizer for a local farm. All steps in the farming process have minimal impact on the surrounding area.
‘Fish Meat’ invites its viewers to take a look at the different farming methods, and begin to identify the more responsible operations. Environmentally speaking, the best system should be one that generates a high output with minimal input, farms a seafood species that is vegetarian or omnivorous, uses minimal energy, and generates minimal pollution, while preventing fish escapes and the spread of disease.
Humans have accomplished countless feats of engineering, and will continue to do so. This film reminds us that the domestication of our food is an age-old tradition, and sometimes it’s best to look to the past before approaching the future. Let’s embrace solutions that don’t create more problems!
‘Fish Meat’ is screened nationally and can be purchased on it’s website.
What do rhinoceroses, elephants, and bluefin tuna have in common? They are all species that are difficult to conserve due to their high price tag. Rhino horns can reach around $30,000 per pound for their claimed medicinal benefits and unlikely ability to cure cancer. In Nigeria, elephant tusks can sell for about $200 per pound as raw materials for carved items like ivory bangles, combs, and chopsticks. Due to their high demand, poaching rates of these endangered animals have significantly increased in recent years.
This year, a single bluefin tuna fetched a record price of $ 1.76 million (around $3,600 per pound) on the auction floor in Tsukiji fish market, Japan. Kiyoshi Kimura, owner of a sushi restaurant chain in Japan and the winning bidder, was not just buying a fish with this 488-pound Bluefin - he was also buying prestige.
Historically, tuna was considered a low-class food and low-grade sushi. Its red meat was quick to spoil and develop a strong odor. Over the years, sushi chefs developed techniques to mellow the bloody taste of tuna by covering it with soy sauce or burying it for days prior to serving. With the development of longline fishing techniques post World War II and the cheap access to imported bluefin tuna from the U.S. in the 60s and 70s, the demand for tuna began to rise. Today, Pacific bluefin tuna populations have dropped by 96.4% from their unfished levels, yet unlike poaching rhino horns or elephant tusks, fishing for bluefin tuna is still legal.
Most of us do not have the ability to go out and stop people from poaching or fishing unsustainably, so what can we do? We can control what we buy. We can commit to be conscious consumers by investigating products before purchasing. Some key actions we can take are:
- Not buying any exotic medicines that sound too good to be true and make claims that are not supported by science
- Questioning any animal based products and seeking information on their raw materials
- Using your Seafood Watch guide and asking about the source of your tuna or any seafood you are eating
Hopefully, by purchasing responsibly we are setting good examples for our family and friends. Being responsible isn’t always convenient, but we owe it to ourselves and to the next generation of every species on earth to do our due diligence and be mindful of our impacts.
King crab is amongst some of winter’s finest offerings from the sea. Yet before you enjoy a much-deserved crab dinner, you might want to double check to ensure your crab source is legal! King crabs are primarily found in the frigid northern waters of the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands. The U.S. and Russia provide the majority of king crab for U.S. markets, however, Russian sources are plagued with a surplus of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) crab. This season alone, for example, U.S. and Japanese buyers have purchased almost double the metric tonnage allotted for Russia’s 2012 total allowable catch (TAC). Due to these management concerns, Russian king crab is currently rated on the Red list of species to avoid by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The good news for crab lovers is that responsibly sourced king crab is available… just make sure it is from U.S. fisheries!
As FishWise begins to wrap up our year in preparation for the holidays, we are all looking ahead, planning for the work to come in 2013. But it’s also a great time to look back and reflect on the incredible progress we made during 2012!
Some key achievements we made here at FishWise over the past year include:
- Helping Safeway to maintain their position as number 1 in seafood sustainability on the Greenpeace Retailer Scorecard
- Working with Safeway to develop North America’s first retail owned-brand Responsibly Caught canned tuna, sourced from free-school purse seine skipjack fisheries
- Gaining major retailer support for the protection of key sockeye salmon habitat in Alaska from potentially devastating mining activity
- Signing a new major retail partner, Hy-Vee of Des Moines, Iowa
- Signing a new distributor partner, Sea Delight , based out of Miami, Florida
- Signing a new independent retail partner, Kings Food Markets of Parsippany, New Jersey
- Helping Santa Monica Seafood renew funding for 5 marine conservation and restoration projects as well as fund 5 new projects through their Responsible Sourcing Vendor Partner Program
- Distributing two white papers summarizing traceability efforts in the seafood industry
- Hiring three new employees to help further our goals: Ashley Greenley, Ethan Lucas and Scott Kennedy
- To top it off, our Executive Director, Tobias Aguirre is expecting his first child on New Year’s Eve!
It’s been a great year for FishWise and we expect it’ll only get better in 2013.
Happy holidays to all,
The FishWise Team