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Monday, November 16, 2009

An Exercise in Futility?

(Photo credit via the Flickr Creative Commons license).

My wife brought home tuna for dinner the other night. My fifteen-year-old daughter, member of her school's environment club, 4-H, and a consummate organic gardener, whipped out her Monterey Bay Aquarium seafood card to see how tuna ranked. Yay! There it was on the Best Choices card. In fact, the card had six variations of tuna and one caveat:

Oh, and look, six variations of tuna and one caveat are also listed on the Good Alternatives card:

Ah crap. There are also about five variations of tuna on the Avoid card:

So, what was this lying on our plates? You can imagine how easy it would be to poke fun at three people who, after much deliberation, have no idea if the fish they are about to eat is the worst choice or the best. Not that it matters. Those cards will never make the slightest dent in what kind of fish is harvested. The only thing that can do that are strictly enforced science-based fishing regulations, and even those are far from fool-proof.

These cards may have some value as a way to increase public awareness but I think they need a sentence at the top that says something like, "Best not to eat ocean fish period."

[Update 11/16/2009]

I just ran into a related article by Andrew Revkin. Check out comment #3 found there. I can't think of a better post cold war use for our nuclear submarine fleet than patrolling fisheries and handing out tickets to violators ; )

[Update 11/27/2009]

From Mongabay:

Restaurants sampled in New York and Colorado are serving up bluefin tuna without informing their customers know they are dining on an endangered species

...nearly a third of tuna sampled in one restaurant in Colorado and thirty restaurants in New York served bluefin tuna, and nine of the restaurants did not label the tuna as bluefin.

...the FDA's approved market name for all eight species of Thunnus is simply 'tuna'," explains Lowenstein. He adds that if the FDA required that tuna be listed as individual species, it would allow consumers to make an informed decision [NOT!]


  1. A very recent study by Oryx: The International Journal of Conservation had this to say:

    "..The report examined the impact of consumer guides to ocean-friendly seafood, and noted that one of the first such programs, wallet cards produced by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, had resulted in no overall change in the market and no decrease in fishing pressures on the at-risk species it targeted..."

  2. Anonymous10:18 PM

    Over 30% of Alaska's total annual commercial salmon harvest is hatchery-produced salmon. These are not wild salmon. So,good luck making sure that that Alaska salmon you just bought is actually a wild salmon.


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