October 20, 2010

Soup to Nuts: Sea(food) change
toward sustainability

To increasing numbers of consumers, sustainability matters, and local grocers are following their lead with new programs that trace a fish's often-winding path from source to shelf.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Whole Foods Market in Portland has launched a seafood program with color-coded signs indicating a fish’s level of sustainability. Green, or “best choice” ratings, means a species is relatively abundant and caught in environmentally-friendly ways. A yellow rating means there are some concerns with a fish’s status or catch methods. Red means “avoid” because the species is suffering from overfishing, or the methods used to catch it are harmful to other marine life or habitats. Whole Foods has already stopped selling many red-rated species.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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At Whole Foods Market in Portland, a green, or “best choice” ratings, means a species is relatively abundant and caught in environmentally-friendly ways. A yellow rating means there are some concerns with a fish’s status or catch methods. Red means “avoid” because the species is suffering from overfishing, or the methods used to catch it are harmful to other marine life or habitats. Whole Foods has already stopped selling many red-rated species.

Additional Photos Below

How will all of this affect price? Are fish from better-managed fisheries more expensive?

Both stores say that pricing may come down to a case-by-case basis. "Some fishing gear that's really sustainable has been that way for a long time, and it's not like they have to make any changes" that would affect price, Brownstein said.

Both stores also say they try to make buying local seafood a part of their strategy because of customer demand, but sustainability comes first.

"We hope to work with GMRI and find underappreciated and plentiful local species that perhaps we could help market," Parmenter said.

Hannaford has already been buying sustainable swordfish from Linda Greenlaw, a well-known swordfish boat captain and author who uses long lines with circle hooks, a fishing method that avoids bycatch of other species. Her first of three hauls – more than 34,000 pounds of swordfish – sold out in a week.

Parmenter would like to see more branding of local fish like Greenlaw's swordfish. Currently, Hannaford has profiles of apple farmers on its website so customers can see where their apples are coming from, and he'd like to do the same for fish.

"We really would like to put a personal face on what we're doing, so we're working on that now," he said. "We're really excited about the possibility. There are so many great stories out there to tell."

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: mgoad@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Whole Foods labels on wild-caught bay scallops and white shrimp indicate that they were harvested in Mexico and the USA, respectively, that they were previously frozen, and bear a yellow designation, which suggests some concerns with a fish s status or catch methods.

  


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