Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Sustainable seafood, anyone? At the fish market or in the supermarket it's practically impossible to know if what you're thinking to buy is ethically sourced. On cans, labelling is usually scanty. On ice, you don't have a clue - and chances are the person serving you doesn't know either.

Now, United States residents (barring those living in Alaska and Hawaii) can order sustainable seafood online and have it delivered to their homes. Mark Bittman at the NY Times writes that Martin Reed of I Love Blue Sea is only "buying and selling seafood he has verified as sustainable". How does he know?

I had two questions. One: How do you know what you’re buying? His answer: “We use all third party standards, like those of Greenpeace (nothing from the “red list”) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium (no “avoid” fish) ” If he knows that “pirating” (as illegal fishing is called) is big with a certain species, he won’t sell it at all. (Thus, no yellowfin.) And he is insisting that suppliers sell him only fish that can be traced — individually — through bills of lading and bar codes.

As for price, Bittman's own purchase (US$50 worth of fish) cost US$50 to ship. Reed says that the cost of shipping becomes negligible for bigger orders. And the seafood, according to the company's website, is "delivered to your doorstep in all eco-friendly packaging".

The website also claims that they're usually less expensive per pound than the supermarket.

A good point that Bittman draws out is that the selection of fish may be superior to what is locally available. But the main inducement for shoppers is that the website gives you the assurance of ethical sourcing - so you don't have to worry whether what you're about to buy is damaging the environment.

In related news, the movie that trumpets a seafood apocalypse - End of the Line - is about to be released in Australia. Keep an eye on local movie guides for details.

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