Arctic Science Journeys
Buying "Green" Seafood
STORY: According to the United Nations, many of the world's fish stocks are being harvested faster than they can replenish themselves. Although new regulations have tried to reverse this trend, the World Wildlife Fund is hopeful consumers--through the choices they make at the check-out counter--will change the way fishermen fish.
The World Wildlife fund recently reached an agreement with Unilever, one of Europe's largest seafood companies, to purchase seafood caught only from sustainable fish stocks. In return, the World Wildlife Fund will lend its stamp of approval to Unilever's marketing efforts. Indrani Lutchman coordinates fisheries policy for the World Wildlife Fund.
"We are trying to do two things, one of which is to build public support by educating the public and making them realize they have a role to play. But also to try and harness market forces. We hope to bind the two, so that in our alliance with big companies we try to set standards that will pull other parts of the industry along toward buying fish from more sustainable sources."
The campaign is modeled on a similar program run by the Wildlife Fund aimed at encouraging timber companies to adopt better forest practices.
"We've got something called the forest stewardship council, which is a group of independent experts, people who look at timber and put a logo on the wood that is coming from sustainable sources. So a consumer going to a do-it-yourself shop can look at a piece of timber, know where it comes from, feel safe about buying it. The idea is to transfer that model to fish."
The certification and labeling program is expected to begin in Europe later this year, and if successful, it could come to the United States. Admittedly, the certification and labeling program will benefit corporations' financial bottom lines. But if successful, it may also convince fishermen to adopt fishing practices that help preserve fish stocks for future generations of seafood lovers.
For Arctic Science Journeys, this is Debra Damron.
Arctic Science Journeys is a radio service highlighting science, culture, and the environment of the circumpolar north. Produced by the Alaska Sea Grant College Program and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
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