Seafood Watch Rates Some Eco-Certification Standards as "Buy" Options

Jun 06, 2013

Seafood Watch

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch has rated a number of independent eco-certification standards for wild and farmed seafood as equivalent to at least its own yellow rankings, and will recommend that consumers, chefs and businesses treat seafood assessed under these standards as carrying a Seafood Watch “buy” recommendation.

The accepted eco-certification standards will be highlighted in Seafood Watch outreach materials.

Eleven eco-certification standards – some species-group specific, others that apply to a broad suite of seafood – were found to be equivalent in their sustainability criteria to the standards used by Seafood Watch in its own respected science reports.

They include:

Wild-capture seafood standards

Farmed seafood/aquaculture standards

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC): Farmed shrimp, mussels, pangasius catfish, oysters, clams and scallops certified by ASC.
  • NaturLand: Farmed shrimp, mussels, carp and freshwater fish certified by NaturLand.
  • Canada Organic: Farmed mussels, oysters, clams, scallops and geoduck clam certified under the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard.
  • Food Alliance: Farmed mussels, oysters, clams and geoduck clams certified by the Food Alliance.
  • Friend of the Sea: Farmed mussels certified by Friend of the Sea.

The year-long benchmarking process was launched in response to requests from Seafood Watch business partners who sought guidance in navigating a marketplace of proliferating global eco-certification programs.

“We wanted to help our business partners, and to eliminate redundancies so we’re not duplicating research into fisheries and fish-farming operations that have already been assessed under robust eco-certification programs,” said Dr. Tom Pickerell, senior science manager for Seafood Watch. “It’s our hope that the findings from our benchmarking work will also be used by standard setters and eco-certification programs that didn’t earn a ‘buy’ recommendation this time around to improve their standards so we can defer to them in the future.”

“Seafood Watch strongly supports the concept of independent eco-certification programs to identify sustainable seafood options, and our benchmarking assessment is a way for us to recognize the growing number of robust programs in the marketplace,” said Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

“With the increasing number of eco-certification standards in the marketplace, it is very helpful to know which standards meet the Seafood Watch criteria,” said Kathy Cacciola, ARAMARK Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability. “Our Monterey Bay Aquarium partnership and the guidance they provide helps ARAMARK continue to make environmentally responsible seafood purchasing decisions.”

Since its inception in 1999, Seafood Watch has become North America’s leading source of information to help transform the seafood market in ways that preserve healthy ecosystems and sustain ocean wildlife.

“Today, more than 17,500 retail stores and food service locations North America base their purchasing decisions on Seafood Watch science,” Kemmerly said. “Completion of our eco-certification benchmarking analysis means these businesses now have hundreds more options to choose from that meet the same Seafood Watch standard.”

For more information about the benchmarking report, visit Seafood Watch. For a list of suppliers and products that meet a Seafood Watch “buy” recommendation, including certifications, visit Fish Choice.

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The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean.