Seafood Watch program recommendations ‘misleading’, says editor

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Bertrand Charron, Seafood Intelligence editor, is questioning the advisory position of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

The Seafood Watch program gives recommendations that indicate which seafood items are best choices, good alternatives, and which ones consumers should avoid.

Recently, Bertrand Charron discovered a mismatch in the recommendations given by the program.

Bertrand Charron. PHOTO: Twitter

“The latest Seafood Watch summary recommendation this week fails to acknowledge its own recognition of ASC salmon recommendation. As it stands, the Seafood Watch salmon advisory misrepresents its own advice regarding farmed salmon,” writes Charron to SalmonBusiness.

Believes text should be amended
Charron further explains, “From reading The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch’s ‘Salmon’ recommendations main page, one could easily be [mis]led to believe that almost all farmed salmon from e.g. Norway, Chile, Scotland is to be ‘no thanks’-avoided (Red-listed). However, Seafood Watch clearly states since June 5, 2017 on its ‘Eco-certification’ tab that it “[…] recommends you purchase seafood from Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified salmon farms. […] We identified the ASC standard as equivalent to at least our yellow “Good Alternative” recommendation.”

The Seafood Watch advisory. PHOTO: Monterey Bay Aquarium

In the Seafood Watch statement (see left) the following can be read:

“[…] Say, “No, thanks” to farmed Atlantic salmon unless it’s farmed in closed tanks, sold under the brand names Verlasso (Chile) or Blue Circle (Norway) or farmed in Maine, British Columbia or Scotland’s Orkney Isles.”

Charron believes the text should be amended to include a mention of ASC-certified salmon, so the “unless it’s” part includes ASC-certified salmon.

“This is all the more relevant since the number of ASC-certified marine net pen Atlantic salmon farms has grown substantially and is far from being negligible; with now nearly 600,000 tonnes of farmed salmon ASC-certified worldwide: a volume representing ~29% of all farmed Atlantic salmon and nearing the entire world supply of wild-caught salmon (including Alaska’s) – in 2016 GWE harvest terms – and hundreds of times the volume of the brand names cited above,” writes Charron.

“Stay tuned”
Charron turned to Twitter to get a response from Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The reply, as shown above, was: “Stay tuned”.

So far, Monterey Bay Aquarium has made no changes to the text.