Refresh [1]
The Tides They Are A Changing

The Tides They Are A Changing

Supermarkets have taken quite a bit of flak [3] for their seafood standards — or lack thereof, in some cases — but it appears they're starting to turn things around.

tuna-school.jpg [4]Yesterday, Ahold [5] announced that all of its U.S. banner stores, including Stop & Shop [6], Giant-Landover, [7] and Giant-Carlisle [8], have thrown their support behind the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solution’s “Common Vision.” [9] This is essentially a commitment to providing more sustainable seafood, as well as educating customers and supporting environmentally responsible policy. This, combined with Ahold’s ongoing relationship with the New England Aquarium [10], shows that the Netherlands-based company is taking seriously the threats that world aquaculture is facing today. Right now, Stop & Shop is in the process of dropping three over-fished species from its cases: shark, orange roughy and Chilean Sea Bass.

Ahold’s decision reflects an attitude that seems to be catching on in the industry. Earlier this month, Whole Foods announced [11] that it would step up its already much-respected farmed seafood standards, incorporating additional guidelines for traceability and ecosystem management. Wal-Mart has also gotten into the game, rolling out Marine Stewardship Council certified fish and setting up standards for its farmed shrimp [12], among other things.

Many other companies have expressed interest in expanding and establishing standards similar to these. This is doing right by the environment, and right at a time when the seafood category could use a boost. The average American ate 16.3 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2007, a one-percent decline from 2006, when they ate 16.5 pounds, according to newly released federal statistics [13].

As with any measure aimed at helping the planet, sustainable seafood guidelines will mean changes for shoppers. Doing without trawl-caught haddock or orange roughy certainly won’t be the end of the world, however. And besides, there are a growing number of responsibly caught options out there.

Managed correctly and with good conscience, seafood departments should be able to meet consumer demand and still promote healthy aquaculture.