Posts Tagged ‘Aquaculture’

Where do I purchase seafood in Southern California?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

With recent media coverage over mis-labeling, the question we are asked most frequently here at Seafood for the Future is “Where can I purchase seafood that I can trust to be well-managed, correctly labeled, AND fresh?”

Today, yet another article raising concerns over seafood mis-labeling was published by Time Magazine entitled, “Fish Labeled as Eco-Friendly Chilean Sea Bass May Not Be”. Consumers have been told that if they cannot live without their beloved Patagonian Toothfish (aka Chilean Sea Bass), that they were in luck! A fishery off the coast of South Georgia Island was evaluated and deemed sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council or (MSC). However, a study by Peter Marko, a professor of biological sciences at Clemson University, took samples of the fish in 2008 and compared it with 2001 fish samples. His findings were as follows:

“…according to DNA analysis by Clemson University researchers, 15% of Chilean sea bass labeled as sustainable and sold at U.S. grocers did not come from the certified fishery. What’s more, 8% of sustainable Chilean sea bass were of a different species entirely.”

There could be several reasons for these findings, but this study indicates that over 20% of the MSC certified Chilean Sea Bass sampled was not MSC Certified Chilean Sea Bass. This article is merely the cherry on top of a summer sundae filled with giant scoops of alarming seafood concerns. What’s most troubling for us here at Seafood for the Future is that people are already confused about seafood sustainability, mercury content, whether fish-farming is good or bad, and now they don’t even know if they’ve really been eating $30 tilapia all this time.  When findings suggest that even MSC Certified fish isn’t safe from the seafood market’s apparent love affair with mis-labeling, it can dissuade even those who really enjoy seafood from getting their recommended serving. We want to be clear, we do not believe this information discredits MSC, MSC has put checks and regulations in place to prevent this from happening. However, it’s obvious from reports surfacing this summer that mis-labeling is rampant in the market itself. It is just an excellent reminder to diversify the types of seafood you eat and learn about fishery management and responsible farming practices. When you learn what makes a fishery or a farm well-managed, you can begin to do your own due diligence and decide what qualifies as sustainable in your book.

It’s official, seafood is the new milk. And it does a body even better - if you’ve been keeping up with us on Facebook or on Twitter you know that among the health benefits of consuming Omega-3s are reduced inflammation, reduced anxiety, higher brain function, and superior cardiovascular health.

So, what’s a sustainable seafood lover and Omega-3 enthusiast to do?

1)  Eat Seafood! 

No we’re not crazy, seafood is just too important for your health not to! In fact, we know that if you’re the average American, you probably aren’t eating enough seafood.  According to the American Heart Association, you should consume seafood at least twice a week. Another great website for tracking your seafood consumption and seeing the benefits of your seafood choices is How Much Fish.

2)  Do your homework.

Check out our Recommendations. Diversify the types of seafood you eat. If you like one type of seafood, chances are there is another one you’ll love. Learn about responsibly farmed seafood and ask for them by name. Research your favorite types of fish. What do they look like whole? What does a fillet look like? Where does it typically come from? Ask your fishmonger these questions and inspect the fish yourself. At the very least, your vendor should be able to tell you whether the fish was wild or farmed and where it is from. If something seems fishy, skip your first choice and test them on another fish. If something still seems fishy, it’s probably time for a new, more informative vendor. 

3) Buy from reputable sellers.

In Southern California, we have 3 recommendations that are completely worth the trip! 

Our first pick is Santa Monica Seafood. They have 2 retail locations – Santa Monica and Costa Mesa. They’ve addressed mis-labeling head-on on their blog. What’s more is that you’ll be in the good company of the discerning chefs and purchasers behind these very reputable establishments. As Santa Monica Seafood’s blog on seafood mis-labeling mentions, chefs often know more about the characteristics of seafood than consumers like you and me. The same fish you can dine on at the Ritz Carlton or Le Monde by Joel Robuchon can be on your dining room table tonight. Plus, we at SFF have worked with the VP of Purchasing at Santa Monica Seafood. He is very active in the sustainable seafood community, an ardent advocate for community supported fisheries, practically a walking encyclopedia of fish, and is probably going to say we were too kind in writing this. You’d be hard pressed to find a more trustworthy seafood supplier with two convenient locations in Southern California and so many high quality options to choose from. If it’s a weeknight and you’re totally pooped from work, they’ll even cook it for you!

If you’re in LA, McCall’s Meat & Fish is another top-notch place to pick up the latest and greatest in the highest quality, locally sourced and responsibly farmed seafood. Nathan McCall hand selects all of their fish and it is so unbelievably fresh that every week there is a brand new offering of fish in their seafood case. You can keep up with their weekly offerings on their Facebook page before making the trip to Los Feliz. Speaking from experience, you can ask Chef Nathan 100 questions about the seafood and he’ll have the answer for every one. If you are an omnivore, good luck trying to escape without surf AND turf! The meats are sourced as meticulously as the fish and Nathan probably has to wipe drool from the front of the case several times a day.

We love a good farmers’ market. The sights, sounds, smells, and the happy feelings evoked from supporting our local farmers are just too much for us to resist. We especially love Orange Home Grown and the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. You might run into some of our partner restaurant chefs like Chef Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub picking up produce on Saturday morning at Orange Home Grown. You’ll also find one our Branded Products partners Carlsbad Aquafarm selling their mussels and oysters directly to the public at both of these amazing markets. If you haven’t had an opportunity to try their shellfish, the good folks at Carlsbad Aquafarm will happily give you a sample at the market!

4) Stay tuned to our Seafood for the Future updates. We want to help you fight mis-labeling, so we’ll start a chef/purchasing series giving you advise on how to be a discerning fish buyer! Let us know which fish you need help with & we’ll be sure to get it covered together with our network of responsible chefs and distributors.

Seafood for the Future

Question about the safety of wild vs. farmed salmon

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Here’s a question we recently received: Is farmed salmon really as safe to eat as wild salmon? …The short answer is yes.

Dr. Charles Santerre of Purdue University, whose area of expertise deals with women and children and their sensitivity to toxins, states that, “The best choice for pregnant women is farmed or wild salmon. These fish are high in healthy nutrients and low in pollutants. Farmed salmon is more affordable and available year round. The concerns over PCBs in farmed salmon have been evaluated by experts and found to be insignificant compared to the health benefits.”

Santerre puts into context the definitive study on PCBs and other contaminants in Pacific salmon (wild) and Atlantic salmon (farmed): Ronald A. Hites et al., “Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon,” Science 303, no. 5655 (January 9, 2004): 226-229. (Note that the term “organic” is used in the chemical sense, not the agricultural sense.)

The Hites paper specifically begins saying, “…our preliminary study showed no significant difference in methylmercury levels between farmed and wild salmon.”

Hites found the average PCB level in farmed salmon to be 37 parts per billion (ppb), and the average PCB level in wild salmon to be 4 ppb. Compare this to the tolerance limit set by both the FDA and Health Canada: 2000 parts per billion.

The US EPA has a lower reference dose is based on the actual consumption rate and one’s body weight. For 132 pound person eating 12 oz. of cooked salmon per week, this limit is 50 ppb, according to this paper by toxicologist Charles Santerre: Charles R. Santerre, “Balancing the risks and benefits of fish for sensitive populations,” Journal of Foodservice 19, no. 4 (2008): 205-212.

Santerre advises that, in order to minimize PCB exposure regardless of species or level, cook the fish and cut off the skin.

Furthermore, Santerre notes that, “Americans receive 42% of dioxin-like compounds (which includes some of the PCBs) from meat products; 17% from dairy products; 12% from fruits and vegetables; 10% from poultry and eggs; 13% from other foods; and only 8% from fish products. Thus, when eating fish and not one of these other foods, consumers may actually be reducing their intake of dioxin- like compounds including PCBs.”

A picture worth a thousand words

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Rather than take the recent suggestion of Food and Water Watch that we “Picture thousands of fish eating, excreting and growing in crowded, dirty operations that necessitate the use of chemicals, antibiotics and pesticides that can harm both consumers and the environment,” have a look at the following image.

This is an actual picture of one of the few commercial marine fish farms in the US: Kona Blue, which operates off of the Big Island of Hawai’i (click to enlarge). We’ll be visiting Kona Blue in September, so be sure to check back for more details. As always, we welcome photos and facts supporting other points of view. More pictures here.

Junk Science- An Inquiry into the Truth Regarding Salmon

Friday, June 25th, 2010

The debate over farmed salmon is now decades old, but wrapped up in the relationship between salmon farms and our marine eco-system are millions of consumers who just want to be able to enjoy that incredibly nutritious and succulent salmon meat with a clear conscience. As a sustainable seafood advisory organization, we are consistently fielding questions about farmed salmon. The majority of these questions mimic the rhetoric that is seen in the media regarding three main topics: mercury content, fish feed and sea lice. While there are many wonderful articles that address these first two issues, including our own assessment of fish feed and the conversation ratio, it is the study of the relationship between sea lice, salmon farms and wild salmon that has motivated this post.

On June 17th, Terence Corcoran of the Canadian Newspaper The Financial Post wrote an interesting article examining the science behind the assertion that salmon farms are killing wild salmon. Read the article below and be sure to leave a comment:

There’s a national science battle underway over salmon. It is a battle over the fate of one part of the salmon industry, salmon farms, and the work of activists who claim to have scientific evidence that fish farms are killing wild salmon and are a threat to the very existence of wild salmon, ocean fisheries and ecosystems.

The science conflict, steeped in politics and green activism, has been raging for the better part of a decade. It has many facets, but it reached a climax of sorts in December, 2007, when researchers at the Centre for Mathematical Biology (CMB) at the University of Alberta published a paper that claimed sea lice from fish farms in British Columbia were contaminating wild pink salmon. In a sensational press release at the time, the University of Alberta’s public relations crew declared the coming collapse of wild salmon: “Fish Farms Drive Wild Salmon Populations Toward Extinction.” The release claimed the study — headed by fisheries ecologist Martin Krkosek and including eco-activist Alexandra Morton — proved that pink salmon populations have been rapidly declining for four years.

“The scientists expect a 99% collapse in another four years or two salmon generations, if the infestations continue.”

Read the entire article