Blog Tags: Sustainable Seafood
When you go to a restaurant and think you’re ordering a white tuna or filet of wild-caught salmon, there’s a good chance the fish on your dinner plate is not what it seems. Numerous studies have uncovered that seafood fraud—the dishonest practice of swapping one type of seafood for another—occurs on a global scale in all steps of the seafood supply chain. Seafood fraud studies have been undertaken in 29 countries and on all continents except Antarctica, and every study have uncovered seafood fraud to some degree.
October is National Seafood Month, a time to raise awareness for sustainable fisheries and celebrate the benefits of seafood in one’s diet.
October 1 kicks off National Seafood Month, a time to raise awareness for sustainable fisheries and celebrate the benefits of seafood in one’s diet. Oceana focuses on sustainable seafood all year long through various campaigns, from the Save the Oceans, Feed the World campaign—which advocates for rebuilding healthy fisheries for a growing global population to enjoy seafood meals—to Oceana’s Seafood Fraud campaign, which advocates for traceability and accurate labeling in the supply chain.
Each month, Oceana magazine features a sustainable seafood recipe and chef. This month’s Chef’s Corner heads to New York City to spotlight Sam Talbot’s seafood restaurant and delicious coconut mussel recipe. Take a look below, and check out the original recipe in the summer issue of Oceana magazine.
I have truly historic news to share with you. Today, in a video message shared at Secretary of State John Kerry’s “Our Ocean” conference, President Obama announced his plan to develop a comprehensive program aimed at combating seafood fraud and keeping illegal fish out of the U.S. market.
In a recent interview with Coast magazine, Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless discussed his new book, The Perfect Protein. While the phrases “saving our oceans,” and “feeding the world,” may feel nebulous and, frankly, overwhelming, Andy used this interview to break these overwhelming ideas down into clear, straightforward points.
"So, if you go into McDonald's and you're choosing between a fish filet sandwich and a hamburger, you can make a decision that has a bigger impact on the world, and yourself, than people appreciate," says Sharpless. "If you eat the hamburger, you're eating enough grain to make more than 200 taco shells and you're consuming enough fresh water to fill more than 10,000 glasses. If you eat the fish filet sandwich, you're not."
It looks like r’s aren’t the only things getting dropped at Harvard: Over the last few years, Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) has overhauled its operations to make its meals more ecologically friendly, and now unsustainable seafood is getting the chop.
In the last year, Dining Services began to examine the thousands of pounds of tuna, tilapia, salmon, and mahi-mahi being served to their seafood-hungry scholars, and realized that there was much room for change. These new changes reached their diners this fall, with students dining on new species like swai, and sustainable and regional versions of old favorites, like mussels from Prince Edward Island and shrimp caught in Maine waters.
“It’s part of our overall program in sustainable dining,” said David Davidson, managing director of HUDS. “We’re hoping we can come up with guidelines we can share with other schools.” To help guide them through the murky waters of seafood sustainability, Dining Services has enlisted the help of Barton Seaver, Washington DC chef, sustainable seafood advocate, National Geographic fellow, and frequent Oceana collaborator.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Simone Lewis-Koskinen, Program Assistant at SeaWeb, reporting from the Seafood Summit in Hong Kong. Oceana is a sponsor of the summit.
After many months and several thousand emails, phone calls and meetings, the Seafood Summit has arrived! SeaWeb’s 10th Annual Seafood Summit in Hong Kong, kicked off this Wednesday with a series of pre-Summit activities exploring the existing and future horizons of the eco-certification landscape, investment mechanisms for fisheries and local seafood markets. Despite the jet lag, most of the participants were in high spirits and eager to mingle, setting the tone for what’s sure to be the best Summit yet.
The following three days will see a flurry of panels, workshops and meetings that get at the heart of some of the most pressing issues facing the seafood industry. From climate change to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, the topics run the gamut, promising a healthy dose of debate and discussion.
Panels addressing tuna and shark issues are particularly likely to spark some heated debates given the cultural and traditional ties to the region. From Friday’s panel discussion on local trends around shark fins and consumer attitudes, to Saturday’s workshop on sustainable shark fisheries, Hong Kong is shaping up to be the perfect place to elevate these dialogues to the next level.
Other sessions likely to provide some interesting food for thought examine the relationship between seafood and the consumer, exploring the various avenues to engage consumers in the discussion. As the Holy Grail for many conservation groups, sessions sharing tools and lessons learned around translating consumer awareness into behavior change are sure to spark a lot of interest.
The Seafood Summit is an annual event hosted by SeaWeb that brings together global representatives from the seafood industry and conservation community for in-depth discussions, presentations and networking around the issue of sustainable seafood. The goal of the Summit is to foster dialogue and partnerships that lead to a seafood marketplace that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. The breadth and depth of topics, discussions and perspectives serves as a catalyst for new solutions as one of the premiere events in the seafood community.
Looking back at past Summits, this year’s event represents the first steps into new territory. Traditionally held in Europe and North America, bringing the Seafood Summit to Hong Kong is an important step for helping the sustainable seafood movement engage more effectively with the Asian marketplace. Many of the presentations so far have acknowledged the growing role Asia has and will continue to play in the path towards sustainability. In the days, months and years to come, this initial foray will surely be remembered as setting the stage for many of the lasting relationships formed at the 2012 Seafood Summit.
How would you feel if you found out the red snapper on your plate wasn’t red snapper at all, but instead something illegally fished or potentially unhealthy? A new Oceana study found that 31% of seafood we tested in South Florida is mislabeled, keeping consumers in the dark about what they’re really eating.
Our campaigners used DNA testing on seafood samples from grocery stores, restaurants, and sushi venues in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas. We’ve conducted studies like this in other cities, and the results from Los Angeles and Boston were even more striking—55% of seafood in L.A. was mislabeled and 48% in Boston.
But just because the numbers are lower in South Florida doesn’t mean that seafood fraud is any more acceptable. Some of the fish being served under a different name pose risks to health and sustainability. The study found that king mackerel, a high mercury fish with a health warning for sensitive groups, was being marketed as ‘grouper.’
Sushi restaurants were the biggest offenders, with 58% of samples found to be mislabeled. All the samples of white tuna collected from sushi vendors were actually escolar, a fish species that can make people sick.
The large amount of seafood coming into the U.S. market can make it difficult to trace each item to its source. Oceana is calling on the federal government to ensure that the seafood we find in our markets is safe, legal, and honestly labeled. By implementing a traceability system, consumers can make informed decisions about what they put on their plate.
Sign the petition to fight seafood fraud and ensure you’re getting what you order.
The health benefits of seafood are well-documented, but some people avoid eating it after hearing reports of high mercury levels. This video might help make things a little clearer.
Produced by the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, the video explains how mercury gets into water and then into the fish that we eat. Burning coal releases mercury into the air and increases its concentrations in our waterways. Depending on where in the food chain a fish is, it could have low levels of mercury or high levels that could be unhealthy.
Eating seafood has many health benefits—it has important Omega 3 fatty acids and is low in the saturated fats you find in other animal proteins, especially red meat. Many fish are safe and healthy to eat. While shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and tuna have higher mercury levels, there are plenty of other options that are safe to eat. You can find responsible and healthy seafood choices in our Sustainable Seafood Guide.
Check out the video, which also features Oceana senior scientist Kim Warner, to learn more about how mercury builds up in the environment and how to stay healthy while including seafood in your diet.
- CEO Note: President Obama Designates Largest Marine Reserve in the World Posted Fri, October 17, 2014
- CEO Note: Introducing Lars “Lasse” Gustavsson, Oceana in Europe’s New Senior Vice President and Executive Director Posted Tue, October 21, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Great Barrier Reef Health “Never Been Worse,” Coral Could Be New Substitute for Bone Grafts, and More Posted Thu, October 23, 2014
- Oceana Magazine, Dr. Pauly Column: How Do We Know How Many Fish There Are in The Sea? Posted Fri, October 17, 2014
- Bird Casualties from BP’s Gulf Spill Much Higher than Original Estimates Posted Tue, October 21, 2014