Buying sustainable seafood has become a priority for customers nowadays, so much so that I would suggest that all seafood suppliers and most shoppers are at least familiar with at least one of the many organizations that rate seafood on sustainability. However, with so many organizations cropping up with sustainable seafood rating systems, deciding which one (if there be just one) to trust can prove confusing. Many of these organizations accept money from interested parties. Some wait several years between assessments of fish stocks and fail to take into account updated information. It can be difficult for customers buying seafood to decipher between all of these organizations and their rating systems. Even congress has recently taken on the issue of sustainability and whether or not there should be laws and transparency requirements for selling sustainable seafood. Who decides what is sustainable or not though is a question that causes problems in the debate. At what point of reference should congress guide their rule of judgement? Many shun the idea of inviting third-party organizations to the table, supposing that certain interests could interfere with judgement. When taken to the task of developing a starting point of reference for sustainable seafood assessment, the government wisely looked into one of its own departments and found a solution that I think is a good ONE. They tapped NOAA.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is an agency of the Department of Commerce and has a National Marine Fisheries Service arm within its organization. The NMFS has been working on rebuilding U.S. fish stocks through collaborative efforts with fishermen and scientists for several years now and has met the challenge with much success. Thanks to NOAA's efforts, all U.S. fisheries are now considered rebuilt or are in the rebuilding process. NOAA is federally funded and offers unbiased assessment of all U.S. fish stocks. The organization's research is used to determine openings, closures, and quotas for our nation's seafood harvests.
NOAA also offers FISH WATCH for the everyday shopper concerned about the status of the domestic seafood product they are buying. I believe Fish Watch is a terrific site to begin understanding the issues and science concerning your seafood purchases and it's usually where I start my search on sustainability issues. Researching many sources for information is always recommended, but I suggest beginning with NOAA's Fish Watch.
There is currently an effort to bring NOAA's work to light not only on Capitol Hill, but also at the seafood counter. It is important to buy sustainable seafood. I believe that the more information out there that is available from credible sources, the better. Everyone, from people that are making the laws in congress to people buying dinner for their family, should be aware and concern themselves with the issues of sourcing sustainable seafood. The business of sustainability is becoming big business, as big as the seafood business itself. There is a lot of information out there that benefits everyone, especially seafood customers. I'm just suggesting that when you begin your journey reading through all the lists, systems, pamphlets, and evaluations, NOAA's Fish Watch is a terrific place to start