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Sustainable Current Brings Better Fish

by Ellen Hardy
29 July 2008, at 1:00am

US - Consumer demand for seafood has been depleting fish and shrimp populations for decades, but now many retailers are using their market strength to demand seafood that's farmed in a more sustainable manner.

The Marine Stewardship Council has helped protect marine animal populations by creating standards retailers and consumers can follow to choose wild-caught fish from better-managed fisheries, reports The Daily Green. Wal-Mart and Whole Foods are among the retailers that sell MSC-Certified seafood.

The news agency says that "Farming" fish and shrimp has helped meet consumer demand, but at a cost. The fishmeal salmon eat, for example, is often loaded with dangerous PCBs. Farmed salmon can contract sealice, which can spread to wild salmon. Shrimp aquaculture can destroy the mangrove swamps that protect barrier islands and coastlines from hurricanes.

Now, many retailers are taking action by aiming to protect sensitive marine habitats, reduce or ban antibiotics, treat waste water, and minimize or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals. According to The Daily Green, Whole Foods will also require its suppliers to pass independent, third-party audits to ensure they are meeting sustainable seafood standards.

Meanwhile, the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions is working with fishermen, retailers, environmental organizations and consumer groups to increase understanding of the nation's fisheries and make more sustainable seafood available in the marketplace. As a result of its work with the Alliance, the Giant supermarket chain said it has recently started selling Pacific long-line cod, which is relatively abundant, and that it will stop selling shark, orange roughy and Chilean sea bass until their populations rebound.

Ellen Hardy