Aug 2 2013

Saving Seafood Special Report: U.S. Seafood: Ratings and Realities

Saving SeafoodAs the National Park Service implements seafood guidelines for its vendors Saving Seafood examines the value, limitations, and pitfalls of third party ratings and certifications.

(Saving Seafood) August 1, 2013 — When the National Park Service (NPS) announced it would utilize third party seafood ratings and certification programs to set guidelines for vendors offering seafood options within U.S. National Parks, the agency revived a debate surrounding the eco-certification of U.S. seafood. Tomorrow, NPS is meeting with NOAA in an attempt to reconcile concerns and ensure that its new sustainable seafood guidelines aren’t detrimental to fishermen, processors, and consumers alike.

In June, the National Park Service (NPS) announced a new initiative to provide healthier and more sustainable food options in national parks across the United States. As part of the program, NPS created guidelines for “sustainable seafood,” stating that parks will “provide only [seafood options] that are ‘Best Choices’ or ‘Good Alternatives’ on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list, certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), or identified by an equivalent program that has been approved by the NPS.”

In response, John Connelly, President of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), wrote a letter to NPS, in which he asked that the Agency reconsider their guidelines. He stated that “any fish caught in U.S. waters is already ‘certified sustainable,’ based on rigorous NOAA oversight and does not need additional certifications.” His point speaks to the strict conservation standards in the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), which are enforced by NOAA.

The Seafood Coalition, an ad hoc group representing members of the seafood industry across the U.S., followed up with their own letter. In it they asked: “Why would the NPS limit its vendors to those whose products are deemed sustainable by outside interests while ignoring [NOAA’s] FishWatch, an existing and proven program?”

Read the full story here.

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