Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Retailers Step Up to Help Depleted Fish


Taking fish out of the ocean faster than they can reproduce -- overfishing -- is alive and well, harming ecosystems and depleting important food sources the world over. 

The most at-risk areas include the northeastern coast of Canada, the Pacific coast of Mexico, the Peruvian coast, the south Pacific (offshore of New Zealand in particular), the southern and southeastern coast of Africa, and the Antarctic region, according to recent research by Canadian scientists.

But let's dwell on the positive.  Good news comes from retailers as the demand side steps up.

Toothfish Catch a Break 

Three American retailers -- Safeway, Wegman's, and Harris Teeter -- have pledged not to sell fish sourced from the Ross Sea off Antarctica.  That's where the Patagonian Toothfish, what marketers call Chilean Sea Bass, swims.  The toothfish is already overfished and to be avoided if eating green is your desire.  It's the fish that attracts poachers from all over. 

A few years ago, the New Zealand Navy followed a ship across the Pacific almost all the way to Uruguay.  The hull of the ship was filled with millions of dollars of toothfish poached from the Ross Sea.  Poachers only succeed where there is demand, so taking some demand out of the equation via these retailers should give the fish a well-needed break.

No More Seeing Red

Probably less surprising, Whole Foods is going a step farther.  The grocery chain will not sell anymore seafood that is labeled as Red on sustainable seafood listings.  Red means avoid because it is not caught in a sustainable manner or catching it greatly harms other sea life.  Eating green is avoiding Red labeled species, unless you like being part of the problem.

So, despite all the doom and gloom, some good people are doing good things to help ensure healthy seas.  Meanwhile, they make themselves much more attractive as responsible, healthy, and sustainable places to shop.  I'll take it!

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