Sustainable Fish Swimming Mainstream To Large Supermarkets

By: Saira Malhotra

Fish has been a hot topic for many food activists, environmentalists, restaurateurs and even many households in recent years. With an increase in fish consumption, no longer just being reserved to a restaurant experience, the question of sustainability is thrown in to light.

We wanted fish and we were able to buy it as expensively or inexpensively as we wanted. There was little understanding of where it came from; unless of course we associated quality with a buzz word location that prefaced it - Is this sea bass Chilean? Did this Salmon swim the crisp fresh waters of Norway? Then something changed. The integrity by which the fish was raised came into question. We became aware of varying harvesting techniques and we understood that it was not 'all the same'. We were told that certain fish were becoming endangered and then that conversation led to an entire list of them.

The industry began to change and restaurants with a moral compass began to adjust their menus accordingly. Many people began to buy fish from grocers, such as Whole Food, Trader Joes and high end specialty stores. This week, NPR's blog 'The Salt', reported on how the big mainstream players with a large scale impact have demonstrated a rigorous approach to their fish offerings. Customers perusing the aisles of fresh and packaged fish at Target, Costco, and Walmart will be no strangers to that blue label on the packaging - a testament to meeting the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) guidelines of responsible and sustainable fishing.

The MSC's goal is to track fish through the various stages of handling from fisheries to the customer and to ensure that fish is harvested in a way that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Companies like Target plan to sell seafood that is sustainable and trackable exclusively by 2015.

In addition to observing the MSC guidelines, Target is also working with 'Fish Wise' to seek certified products and inspire other fisheries to follow-suit. While this will increase the demand of fish harvested this way, Target and Walmart are confident that they can get competitive pricing on fish that check the box on sustainability and environmentally harvested.


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