Three chefs from our Blue Ribbon Task Force traveled to Washington D.C. in June to talk to Congress about the importance of sustainable U.S. seafood to the restaurant industry.
The chefs were able to meet with representatives from their own states to advocate for strong, science-based fishery management.
Chef Sheila Lucero met with Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado to discuss sustainable seafood in their land-locked state.
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Federal Policy Manager, Josh Madeira, shows Senator Bennet the Seafood Watch app.
Chef Steve and Chef Susan met with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada.
Chef Steve spoke with staff from Representative Carlos Curbelo and Senator Marco Rubio’s offices about the importance of sustainably-sourced seafood in Florida.
A group shot in front of the capital – the three chefs were accompanied by two members of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Policy team, Josh Madeira and Erin Eastwood, and by Seafood Watch’s Sheila Bowman.
Chef Sheila had breakfast with Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado.
Congress loves celebrity chefs too! Chef Sheila signed a baseball for staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.
Congressman Charlie Crist from Florida gets a picture with Chef Steve after a meeting together.
Chef Steve also met with Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida.
Chef Susan met with Representative Jimmy Panetta’s staff and shows off the Seafood Watch app.
The chefs had over 25 meetings with Congressional representative offices, as well as the Senate Commerce Committee. The meetings helped generate interest in, and awareness of, chefs’ perspectives on fishery-related policies and legislation.
U.S. fisheries are some of the most sustainable in the world thanks to smart, science-based management and our team is working to keep it that way!
One of the World’s Top Chefs is also a Seafood Watch Partner
When Brazilian chef Alex Atala arrived in Monterey to participate in last year’s Sustainable Foods Institute at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, he wasn’t interested in relaxing at his hotel after the long flight. He had just one thing in mind: going straight to the ocean’s edge.
“I picked him up in the airport in Monterey,” says Simone Jones, Seafood Watch Business Engagement Manager. “And he said, ‘Take me somewhere—let’s go to the beach.’ When we got to Asilomar State Beach, he immediately removed his shoes, walked down to the shore, and started eating different seaweeds. ‘Oh, this one is amazing!’ he said. ‘It’s wonderful! Here, try this one!’ ”
Despite his growing fame, Atala remains firmly rooted in the earth and sea. He’s recognized by the British publication, Restaurant Magazine as one of the world’s top 10 chefs, and has been on Time magazine’s 100 most influential people list. He’s also known for using local ingredients in his recipes, including sustainable seafood, rice and rare fruits from the Amazon forest. He’s advocated on behalf of the indigenous people of Brazil, especially farmers and food producers. His famed Brazilian restaurants–D.O.M. (two Michelin stars) and Dalva e Dito (one Michelin star)—have been recognized worldwide for their emphasis on sustainability and locally sourced ingredients.
Both restaurants are Seafood Watch Partners, helping transform the marketplace in favor of sustainable seafood and ensuring that consumers make choices for a healthy ocean.
“He believes that you can’t protect the ocean and the forests if you don’t protect the people,” says Jones, who’s a native of Brazil and has known of Atala’s commitments to sustainability for several years. “He believes in living harmoniously with nature. In order to preserve species, you need to preserve a way of life.”
Toward this end, Atala established the ATA Institute, to raise awareness about native Brazilian ingredients and the environmental issues surrounding them. The organization is also working to help create a reliable, livable income for Brazilian farmers and producers.
Brazil is the largest country in South America and full of seafood lovers. U.S. consumers import a lot of mahi mahi, snapper and tuna from the country. Seafood Watch is working to improve fishing and farming practices in the region. We partnered with Unimonte University in São Paulo to hold two sustainable seafood seminars, which led to the creation of the Brazilian Alliance for Sustainable Seafood. We’re also working with some of the country’s largest retailers to implement sustainable seafood policies and have trained analysts to help develop seafood recommendations for species that are important to the Brazilian market.
In his two short years as Monterey Bay Aquarium’s executive chef, Matthew Beaudin has already made a lasting impression. Chef Matt is dramatically transforming our restaurant’s product sourcing by working with Seafood Watch and his vendors. He hopes it can serve as a sustainability model for others to follow.
Today, we’re happy to share that his tireless effort has been recognized with a Seafood Champion Award in the Visionary category. The Awards are given out annually by The Ocean Foundation’s SeaWeb project to honor excellence in promoting environmentally responsible seafood.
Chef Matt’s initiatives have been wide-ranging and have shifted $1 million in buying power to local producers and fishermen. Presently, more than 99 percent of the products used in our kitchen come from less than 90 miles away. Some of the benefits we’ve already seen include improved traceability for where seafood was caught and by which boat; local seafood purveyors and fishers agreed to use reusable plastic totes instead of Styrofoam packaging; and acquiring squid in season from local fishers just hours after harvest— squid typically harvested here is sent to China for processing and then shipped back.
“Matthew Beaudin is forward-thinking and an inspiration for how all seafood supply chains should function in the future—local, traceable, sustainable and socially responsible,” said Awards judge Momo Kochen, director of programs and science for MDPI, Indonesia. “How can we multiply him?”
Join us in congratulating Chef Matt and all of this year’s Seafood Champions! See the full list of honorees at the Seafood Champion Awards website.
This month’s new recommendations include the following:
We welcome about two million visitors a year to the Aquarium and many of them eat at our cafe or restaurant while they’re here. We take great care in how we source the ingredients we use and are proud to be able to support local farms that use sustainable practices.
Today, more than 99 percent of the products used in our kitchen come from less than 90 miles away. We get our duck eggs, and goat and sheep milk from a farm in San Benito County.
Aquarium Executive Chef Matt Beaudin takes a lickin’ from our junior goat milk supervisor.
And now we’ve we’ve partnered with another small, local certified-organic farm to raise approximately 80 percent of the produce we use in our kitchen!
Chef Matt inspects the deliciously organized sunlight captured by Francisco Gildarlo and Rebecca España
Our primary produce supplier, Russo’s Produce, connected Aquarium Executive Chef Matt Beaudin with España Farm. Here, sibling farmers Francisco Gildarlo and Rebecca España now grow the majority of what’s needed for our restaurant’s seasonal menus.
We can sea our house from here!
From tomatoes to microgreens and fava beans, the brother and sister – with a few other helpers on weekends – plant and hand-pick all the vegetables on the 34-acre farm. We also get this fresh produce delivered box-free to save thousands of pounds of cardboard every month!
Fava beans. Nom!
The special arrangement we have with Russo’s might sound expensive, but Chef Matt says that it’s actually more cost-effective than using a high volume, low cost food service provider.
“A lot of people will use one supplier because it’s just easier,” Chef Matt explains. “It’s more effective to make one phone call to order everything than to make one phone call for fava beans and tomatoes, and one phone call for asparagus. So, instead we found one partner, Francisco, who could do it all. Over the course of a year we’ll plan out our produce needs with him and then he’ll plant for us in cycles. We also hope to help push Francisco into different markets so there’s a much broader buying group from him.”
Chef Matt is thinking well beyond just the needs of the Aquarium. He hopes he is creating a model for others to follow by demonstrating how a symbiotic relationship with a local farmer can serve everyone better.
“Our goal is to be able to spread the word here about these famers,” he says. “What we want to do, our endgame, is to get other chefs interested in what we’re doing out here, and get them to see that there are amazing things in your backyard. Chef Adam and I are extremely passionate about it. We really care about where things come from and how they’re treated. So to have a farm like this…and to be able to kind of put it on the map, is really what we want to do. We want to leave something behind.”
Micro greens with a big story.
Seafood Watch is part of a larger sustainable seafood movement that began in the mid-1990s as a small ripple of voices. Twenty years later it’s swelled into a wave of change. This milestone marks an opportune time to look back at the impact we’ve all accomplished together and the challenges that still lie ahead of us.
Then and Now
We have a lot to celebrate. Back then, regulations designed to protect the oceans weren’t working fast enough – and fisheries that fed millions of people and supported thousands of jobs were headed towards collapse.
Since then, the combined efforts of seafood industry and conservation leaders has helped change the industry and make it radically different than 20 years ago:
Signs of Progress
Here at Seafood Watch, we’re proud of the progress we’ve seen firsthand. Consider these statistics for example:
The complexity of the issues facing us, however, means there is still a lot of work to be done. Seafood Watch is committed to helping address these challenges:
Next month, Seafood Watch staff will gather with others in the sustainable seafood movement at the Seafood Summit. All in attendance will reflect on the shared accomplishments of the last 20 years while also looking to what lies on the horizon.
The work may seem daunting, but our shared history reminds us the we’ve been here before. Together, we can continue to advance our shared goal of a healthy ocean, benefiting both wildlife and society.
Updated: 5/18/17 - Check back regularly for more info and new events!
The ocean covers more than 70% of Earth and provides us with every other breath. It’s our food pantry and our playground. Join us in showing our appreciation on June 8 for World Oceans Day. Here are some ideas of ways to get involved and free resources to get you started.
WorldOceansDay.org serves as the central coordinating platform for World Oceans Day. On the website you can:
How Businesses can get Involved
Seafood Watch encourages restaurants and businesses to recognize World Oceans Day. Here are some simple tips and ideas:
Events in New York City
Several events will be going in New York City during the first week of June. To kick-off the week, there is a big Ocean Festival on Sunday, June 4 on Governors Island and an Ocean March of boats on the Hudson River. Later in the week, the United Nations is hosting the Ocean Conference to implement Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14): Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Several Seafood Watch staff will be in attendance for the various events in New York.
Tuna is the third most popular seafood in the U.S., behind only shrimp and salmon. Most of what we eat being the canned variety. Since all of those cans begin to blur together in store aisles, we’re highlighting a few names and places to make it easier for you to pick an ocean-healthy option off of the shelf.
Look for these Seafood Watch Partners
Other Reliable Brands
Hy-Vee and Albertsons’ are two grocery stores that follow Seafood Watch recommendations through partnerships with FishWise, an organization that specializes in helping businesses source more sustainable seafood.
Also, American Tuna is a brand that specializes in pole-caught, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified albacore tuna.
To the average consumer, one can of tuna may not seem so different from another, yet a closer look at the label can reveal information important to ocean health, namely how the fish were caught. The amount of bycatch, or incidental catch of unintended species, in tuna fisheries varies greatly depending on the type of gear used to catch the fish.
Pole and troll fishing results in little or no bycatch and tuna caught with this gear generally rates higher against our standard. When shopping for canned tuna, read the label for descriptions like for “pole-caught,” “troll-caught” or “pole and line caught.”
Longlines and purse seines can produce a lot of bycatch, including threatened or endangered species such as sea turtles, sharks and seabirds. The amount of bycatch caught with purse-seines, however, is greatly reduced when fish aggregating devices (FADs) aren’t used. Look for canned tuna labels that say “FAD-free”, “school caught”, “free school” or “unassociated” to be sure you’re getting a more ocean-healthy product.
Below is a video that explains the negative impacts that fish aggregating devices can have on other vulnerable species.
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