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Sustainable Fish

by on February 12, 2013

Sustainable Fish

When Wal-Mart won’t sell your product (or at least some of it) because it is not environmentally sustainable, you have problems.

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  1. The MSC’s labeling of the Sockeye Salmon is such flawed logic. To add to the lollipop metaphor, its kind of like giving me an A in a class and then telling me to give A quality work. If I already have the A, my priority is not going to be giving 100% to that particular class. Its really discouraging to think that these agencies, which are put in place to help protect the environment and the people who rely on it, continually make the same mistakes over and over again based on flawed logic. All I could think of while listening to this news clip was the Army Engineer Corps and Katrina. We talked about in class how they wanted to build a new canal, which in design was essentially a MRGO part two. Luckily, the court system didn’t allow this to happen. Still, the fact that a government agency could be so flawed in its reasoning calls into question every other agency. I can’t just blindly trust an organization, even if they are considered the authority in their particular matter, because often their are vested interests behind their intentions.

    I guess as a consumer, if you really want to be environmentally friendly and sustainable, you have to be active in your knowledge and do your research. Just the fact that the MSC approved over 200 fisheries and denied only 10 should raise a red flag for consumers. I hope the industry will be able to fix the Sockeye population problem, because otherwise, the people who rely on it might have to find another livelihood.

  2. Growing up, my family always tried to buy organic and avoid shopping at Walmart. Yet recently, when I heard that Walmart has been named the largest seller of organic products in the United States, I faced a personal ethical dilemma. I had to decide whether the costs of supporting an institution that has been known to embody the negative consequences of consumerist American capitalism were high enough for me to not support the company in its noble initiatives. I decided to make my purchases there selective- understanding that not all of their practices are environmentally or socially conscious- particularly those pertaining to the treatment of animals. Therefore, the concept of even Walmart refusing to carry some of the products that the MSC is producing really caught my attention and angered me.
    The concept of the MSC trusting fisheries to carry out sustainable practices for five years before making actual judgements, and meanwhile ensuring consumers that they are supporting ethical, sustainable efforts is mind blowing to me. The acts of dredging and overfishing are quickly eating away at the ocean’s system of biodiversity. This is clearly another example of the influence that large, powerful institutions have on the nature and extent of information that becomes available to the public in our society.
    Earlier today, I attended a presentation given by an HC alumni who is currently working in the Caribbean on a project that is focused on developing technology that will help scientists monitor changes in fish abundance at spawning sites. In his talk, he explained how the dangers of dredging and overfishing were so apparent there, in the dwindling state of the oceans and reefs what had once been so abundant in that particular area. In particular, fish species that were higher up in the food chain were turning out to be the ones whose populations were decreasing the most in density. Tim, the speaker, acknowledged that although some areas in the Caribbean were being designated as off limits and non-fishable, issues with communication and enforcement were causing significant decreases in the numbers of fish and even entire populations in the area.
    While the work of Tim and his team was incredibly insightful and inspiring to hear about- their efforts can only go so far. Hearing his talk, and reading this article have certainly motivated me to become a more conscious buyer of seafood products. I agree with the previous post’s argument that it really is up to the consumer to research and chose which companies and services they wish to support. I hope that within the next few years, as sustainable and organic food production practices rise in popularity, we will see a shift in how strict the term’s requirements must be.

  3. Ever since I was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease two years ago, I have been become slowly accepted into the Whole Foods circle, or as my family calls “Whole Check”. Prior to being gluten-free, I generally moved towards to organic labeled snacks or fruits. Similarly, my father has always made a point on stating that he will never buy “farm raised salmon” based on the influx of press on the hazards behind “farm raised salmon”. In high school, I read the book “Skinny Bitch” (excuse the title) that also praised the benefits of organic foods and naturally raised fish or meat. However, as time progressed and our wallets got thinner, we typically tended to buy fruits, vegetables, or meats that are cheaper. Throughout these organic phases, I never stopped to look at what the word “sustainable” really meant. Honestly, I probably guessed it meant the seafood would last longer in my refrigerator. This article defines “sustainable” as seafood caught with methods that don’t deplete supply as well as protect the environment. However, clearly this generic term is under speculation by the MSC and buyers such as Wal-Mart. It shocked me to read that the Whole Foods label is not phased by the concerns around the need to better describe the meaning of “sustainable”. However, Wal-Mart refuses to buy seafood with that label. I wonder then, what type of seafood is Wal-Mart willing to buy? It is difficult to believe Whole Foods is selling less acceptable food than Wal-Mart. I ask, what will be an acceptable standard for labeling our seafood? Furthermore, what term will signify the seafood as acceptable? Lastly, how will we educate the public enough to know the differences between terms and where their produce comes from?

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