Overfished Oceans: Urgent Need for Sustainable Seafood Buying Practices
According to Greenpeace.org, at least 75 percent of the world’s fish stocks are now considered fully- or over-exploited or depleted as a result of a sevenfold increase in fish harvesting between 1950 and 2005. The organization’s International Seafood Red List continues to spotlight the 22 species most at risk, and MontereyBayAquarium.org provides free regional consumer guides to approved fish caught and farmed using sustainable practices. Fortunately, many food retailers are now developing policies to ensure that they are sourcing seafood responsibly, according to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
Thus, pressure is building on the seafood industry to adopt the management practices of the more sustainable fisheries. Evolving rules are intended to preserve supplies, maintain the health of the catch and reduce environmental impacts.
The Belgian Delhaize Group is among those leading the way, by demanding comprehensive accountability from its 280 seafood product suppliers; they must prove the status of sustainable practices for some 4,500 fresh, frozen and packaged products starting in 2011. The move involves 1,600 stores in its Hannaford, Food Lion and Sweetbay chains.
“Sustainable seafood is a hot-button item with about 15 percent of shoppers now, but growing steadily,” observes George Parmenter, Delhaize manager of corporate responsibility.