We’ve been keeping a balanced conversation about seafood fraud alive here on the Blog, and recently worked to stop the State of California from implementing new seafood labeling laws – not because we don’t think seafood fraud is a problem, but because we think it’s a problem best handled by implementing laws that already exist.
However, all the negative press about the issue of seafood fraud has made American consumers nervous about eating seafood. In response to these concerns, the FDA began conducting DNA testing on fish that have a history of being misidentified, in an effort to determine the accuracy of the market names on their labels. Sampling and testing conducted as part of this project found that the fish species was correctly labeled 85% of the time.
According to the National Fisheries Institute’s John Connelly
“Eighty-five percent of seafood was labeled correctly and the mislabeling was focused on two species,” said Connelly. “Our job is to work with companies and focus on those problem areas.” He continued, “This type of information gives regulators important insights and helps them focus their resources. New laws don’t do that.”
The FDA’s testing to date has focused primarily on fish collected from the U.S. wholesale distribution chain, prior to the point of retail sale, and to a limited extent on seafood collected at the point of import. These sampling efforts specifically targeted seafood reported to be at the highest risk for mislabeling and/or substitution. These included cod, haddock, catfish, basa, swai, snapper and grouper; sampling and testing conducted as part of this project found that the fish species was correctly labeled 85% of the time.
The FDA will use the results from this testing to help guide future sampling, enforcement, and education efforts designed to ensure that seafood offered for sale in the U.S. market is labeled with an acceptable market name for the species.
“What the FDA found reinforces the need for implementation of rules already on the books,” said Lisa Weddig, Secretary of the Better Seafood Board (BSB.) “We don’t need more regulations and rhetoric, we need more enforcement.”
You can read the full FDA Report by clicking here.
Santa Monica Seafood takes a Zero Tolerance approach to seafood fraud, and we support the FDA’s efforts to implement existing regulations. Ask your Santa Monica Seafood Sales Representative for more information about how we fight fraud on a daily basis.
Because of wild seafood’s often seasonal nature, it lends itself well to “limited time offerings” which research is showing can provide that certain “buzz” that your customers are looking for.
According to an article from The SmartBlog on Food and Beverage,
“…limited time offerings, or LTOs, are nothing new in the restaurant industry, with brands marketing the limited availability or seasonal re-introduction of products like the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco or Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. 39-unit Burgerville ties their limited time offerings to the seasonality of their menu, similar to the marketing of “blink-and-you’ll-miss-them” ramps on fine dining menus every spring.”
So what are we recommending right now for those of you looking to offer your customers something with a ticking clock? Here are a few ideas:
We’ll see the end of both the Santa Barbara Spot Prawn season and the Oregon Bay Shrimp season on October 31st, so if you want to get in on the last week of these seasonal shrimp, act now!
The 2014 Pacific Halibut season is also winding down. Although the season doesn’t officially close until mid-November, there’s only about 6% of the quota remaining, so it’s anyone’s guess when fishermen will haul those last few fish aboard. We do offer a high-quality refreshed Pacific Halibut option while the season is closed, but you might want to feature fresh Halibut while you can.
The Florida Stone Crab Claw season will run through May, but now is the time to get these sweet and tasty claws on the menu. We’re bringing in a variety of sizes, so check in with your Sales Rep on availability and price.
In some sense, all our wild fish options offer some exciting instability! That’s why we encourage you to stay flexible if you have wild seafood on the menu. Sure, some species like Mahi Mahi or Scallops are almost always available, but sure enough as soon as we say, “It will be here” some crazy weather situation or transportation strike means an empty spot in our cooler.
What kind of seasonal seafood do you enjoy featuring on your menu?
We just received some detailed updates from the WWF Peruvian Mahi Fishery Improvement Project (FIP), one of our RSVP funding recipients. Here’s a summary of some of the great progress they’ve made recently:Signing of Addendum No. 01 to IMARPE Convention with WWF
In July, Addendum No.01 to the Specific Agreement on Technical Cooperation was signed between WWF and the Instituto del Mar del Peru (IMARPE) with the aim of transferring funds to develop activities that strengthen biological information gathering with an emphasis on the impacts of El Niño in the Peruvian mahi mahi fishery.Attendance at Expoalimentaria 2014
WWF-Peru attended and participated in Expoalimentaria 2014, the region’s largest international trade show, August 27-29 in Lima. Organized by the Exporters Association of Peru (ADEX),WWF-Peru provided information for the design of a sustainable fishing brochure shared in the fishing section of the expo. WWF also utilized the event to meet with the leading exporters ofmahi mahi and report on FIP efforts.Development of the first National Workshop on Mahi Mahi and the creation of the National Technical Group (NTG)
IMARPE and WWF-Peru designed and organized the first National Workshop on Mahi Mahi, held August 20-21st, in order to promote a better understanding of the biological and fishery characteristics of the resource. The meeting was attended by representatives of Ministry of Production (PRODUCE), IMARPE (from the headquarters and coastal laboratories of Paita, Trujillo,Chimbote, and Ilo), and the WWF-Peru Marine Program. One of the main results of this meeting was the formation of the National Technical Group on mahi mahi.Participation in Peru-Ecuador Bi-national Workshop joint study of mahi mahi
The First Bi-national Workshop on mahi mahi was held between Peru and Ecuador in Guayaquil, Ecuador, September 8-10th 2014. Thirty five researchers from the Ecuadorean NationalFisheries Institute, the Undersecretary of Fisheries for Ecuador, IMARPE, WWF-Ecuador, and WWF-Peru participated in the meeting. Key outcomes include:
· The establishment of a partnership between the National Fisheries Institute (INP) of Ecuador and IMARPE for the mahi mahi fishery.
· A proposed system to exchange scientific technical information, consistent with the Monitoring Committee provisions in the Peru-Ecuador bi-national agreement.
· The planning of joint research under the Cooperation Agreement between INP and IMARPE.
· A review of sampling forms used in both countries which concluded that while they report similar information, the short to medium term collection must be strengthenedthrough the development of standardized sampling protocols.
· A recommendation that historical information on mahi mahi dating back to 1996 in Peru and 1990 in Ecuador is stored in a compatible database.
· The establishment of a review of the forms used by observers in order to standardize a single format for records in both countries within a period of three weeks.
· Agreement that the second bi-national mahi mahi workshop will take place in Paita, Peru in May 2015.
Lots of great working going on, thanks for your support and we’ll let you know when we have more news!
We just received a copy of the California Governor’s official Veto of SB1138. As you might recall we’ve been working for this veto – so we’re glad to know that the Governor agreed with us that although we need to continue to fight seafood fraud, this isn’t the best approach.
Here’s the Governor’s letter:
To Members of the California State Senate
I am returning Senate Bill 1138 without my signature.
Much of what the bill seeks to accomplish is good. Requiring seafood producers and wholesalers to identify whether fish and shellfish are wild caught or farm raised, domestic or imported – these are reasonable and helpful facts for purchasers to know.
Requiring more precise, species-specific labeling of seafood, however, is not as easily achieved.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration publishes both market names and common names under which fish and shellfish may be sold. The bill’s requirement to use the FDA published common name in all fish and shellfish labels, unless the state promulgates a different common name, would create uncertainties and complexities that may not be easily resolved.
Proponents of this measure have made enormous strides in helping consumers and policymakers understand the health, safety and sustainability impacts in our consumption of seafood
Let’s continue to work to give California consumers information that will help them make wise decisions.
Edmund G. Brown Jr.
On August 29, the California legislature passed a bill that would add a significant new burden on restaurants serving seafood. This bill will have a significant impact on you and your waitstaff, and we encourage you to STAND UP and fight for your right to serve seafood in the state of California!
Here’s a little bit of background:
Senate bill 1138, states:
“A restaurant that sells or offers for sale any fresh, frozen, or processed fish or shellfish intended for human consumption, wild caught or farm raised, shall identify the species of fish or shellfish by its common name for the consumer in writing, or orally if not identified in writing, at the time the consumer orders the fish or shellfish. It is unlawful for a restaurant to knowingly misidentify the species of fish or shellfish in violation of this paragraph.”
The bill does not include an exemption allowing restaurant staff to inform the customer only if the customer asks for the Common Name.
The bill states that a restaurant shall identify the fish by its Common Name for the consumer in writing or orally at the time the consumer orders the fish.
For more, See Section 2 (a) (2) of Senate Bill 1138.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Seafood List provides “Acceptable Market Names” for fish. The CA legislation would require wait staff (at tables or the counter) to identify the fish by its Common Name at the time of order.
Just imagine the following scenarios:
- A waitress would need to inform a customer ordering shrimp whether the shrimp was “Kadal Shrimp” or “Marsh Grass Shrimp” or “Jinga Shrimp” or one 30 possible Common Names for specific shrimp species.
- A worker at a food truck accepting an order for a mahi fish taco would need to inform the customer “at the time the customer orders” that she will be served dolphinfish.
- Hotel restaurant staff would need to know and immediately inform a guest that his “Rockfish” was actually “Splitnose Rockfish” or “Swordspine Rockfish” or “Bronzespotted Rockfish” to comply with this law.
It would be impossible for waitstaff to know the more than 1,850 Common Names of the fish served daily at California restaurants … and the law states a restaurant shall provide the Common Name when the customer orders the fish.TAKE ACTION!
The California legislature has adjourned for the year so there is no opportunity for the legislature to fix this legislation. The only option is for Governor Brown to veto the legislation and avoid restaurants from being required to train wait and counter staff on the more than 1,850 Common Names of fish served at restaurants.
Governor Brown’s staff on this legislation includes:
Lark Park, Deputy Legislative Secretary at Lark.Park@gov.ca.gov.
Mr. Park’s assistant is Michael Mullaney, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your restaurant believes that the Governor should veto this legislation based on this unworkable mandate, you should contact Mr. Park as soon as possible.
If you prefer to write a letter to Governor Brown, it should be addressed to:
The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr. Governor, State of California State Capitol, First Floor Sacramento, California 95814
Mr. Park should be copied on any letters.
If you want further information, please view this video to understand how CA Senate Bill 1138 will harm your business.
Some Very good news from the hard working team at Seafood Watch has been buzzing in the news all week! They recently announced that all groundfish caught in California, Oregon and Washington are either now ranked a Seafood Watch “Good Alternative” or “Best Choice”. This reflects a continuing pattern of improvement for U.S.-managed fisheries.
Factors contributing to fishery improvements and recommendation upgrades include
- Reductions in the catch of overfished species,
- Additional species stock assessments, and
- Area closures to protect vulnerable habitat
According to Seafood Watch, The new assessments also factor in other other fishery management efforts, including quotas that better take uncertainty into account and the implementation of catch shares, which contributed to species upgrades.
Here are a few exciting highlights that pertain directly to our inventory:
- Major flatfish species – including Dover sole and Petrale sole have been upgraded from “Good Alternative” to “Best Choice”
- Sablefish from California, Washington and Oregon are either a best choice or a good alternative depending on how they were harvested
- All trawl- and longline-caught rockfish have been upgraded from “Avoid” to either “Good Alternative” or “Best Choice”
We think your customers will be as excited about this good news as we are all – please let us know how we can help you convey this (or any) sustainability message.
They may have also seen this piece in the Los Angeles Times (that’s the F/V Southbay in the picture – we buy fish from that vessel from our dock in Morro Bay)! Make sure you have some of these species on your menu, and get your front of the house team up to speed on the news!
Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this exciting update from some of our current RSVP Program funding recipients! So much good work going on out there, we’re glad to be a part of it!Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology Program (AKCRRB)
A lot of great work happening in Alaska -here are some highlights from the program:
- NOAA researchers at the Kodiak Laboratory released 11,250 juvenile red king crabs into Trident Basin, near Kodiak in August. The juveniles used in this experimental release were hatched from broodstock (seven adult females) captured in Alitak Bay, Kodiak Island.
- Over the past few years, habitat and juvenile distribution surveys were conducted near the city of Kodiak, Old Harbor, and Alitak Bay to identify potential release sites.
- In fall 2013, researchers released and followed about 5,000 hatchery-reared juveniles in Cozy Cove near the village of Old Harbor. o test how well hatchery-reared crabs survive in the wild and what factors affect their survival. The results should give researchers an idea of the optimal density to release red king crabs to maximize survival.
Establishing Mahi Mahi Fishing Season
- On July 12th, the Peruvian Ministry of Production (PRODUCE) established the mahi mahi fishing season, open from October 1st to April 30th annually.
- WWF Peru played a key role in supporting the establishment of the mahi mahi fishing season, including collaborating with the Peruvian government’s fisheries research institution IMARPE on research projects key to understanding the dynamics of the species, producing and promoting the ¿Qué Pasa Perico? documentary film that highlights the struggle of artisanal fishermen to ensure the sustainability of mahi mahi, and engaging in direct advocacy with local authorities and key stakeholders on the ground.
- On August 9th, the ¿Qué Pasa Perico? documentary film, co-produced by WWF Peru and El Taller.pe, was screened for the public at the eighteenth annual Lima Film Festival.
CLICK HERE to learn more…
Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) meeting
At the 87th meeting of the IATTC held on July 14-18th, in addition to the tuna related topics, a discussion was held with the authorities of the General Directorate of Fisheries Management Policies and PRODUCE highlighting the importance of increased involvement in the Peru mahi mahi FIP.
Peruvian National Working Group
- WWF has been working in coordination with IMARPE to promote the formation of the Peruvian National Working Group, a key milestones FIP Action Plan, and an important step in the formation of the International Working Groupfor the assessment of mahi mahi.
- IMARPE, in collaboration with WWF Peru, will hold a national Workshop on mahi mahi to bring together all IMARPE staff involved in the research of mahi mahi in August 2014.
- A critical next step, the Peruvian National Working Group will participate in the binational workshop between Peru and Ecuador to be held in September 2014, and in the regional workshop planned for October 2014.
We’re so excited about the great work this group is doing locally! Check out some of their efforts:
- 80,000 fish are in growout pens (CI Harbor, King Harbor, Huntington Harbor, Newport Bay, Dana Point Harbor, SD Bay), with some planned for immediate release.
- Field Surveys: First half of 2014 data was compiled; 2,304 fish were scanned for tags from both recreational and commercial fisheries.
- Catalina WSB grow-out trial using soy oil based feed was concluded; results are pending.
- New Yellowtail production run was initiated; additionally, 4 new Yellowtail broodstock pools are being constructed.
The PIER team initiated the 2014 gear trials in late July with two cooperative fishers, the F/V Gold Coast and the F/V Leah Gail. With very few swordfish being landed by the local harpoon fleet, the deep-set trials were initiated cautiously in an attempt to limit effort during periods of reduced swordfish abundance. Despite the slow harpoon season, the deep-set trials have begun to show promise, with the teams consistently catching swordfish over the past two weeks.
Despite lower effort, at present (8/2014) capture rates using the deep-set techniques have exceeded those of the harpoon fleet (a small group of approximately 10 vessels). Preliminary catch rates also suggest high selectivity for swordfish, with the occasional opah and bigeye thresher shark providing the only other forms of catch. The cooperative deep-set trials will continue through the summer and fall months and landings will be compared with those of existing gears.Heal the Bay – Key to the Sea
The first classes of the 2014-2015 season begin next week with the real kick off happening on September 17th for our Coastal Cleanup Education Day, where 750 students come to the Santa Monica Pier for a day of educational activities, beach cleanup and aquarium experience.
We use NOAA Fisheries FishWatch.gov website as a source for all kinds of information about the seafood industry; how stocks are managed, scientific data and more. The website is one of our first stops when we’re looking for details about the domestically harvested or farmed fish and shellfish that we sell, and it’s also a great source of news and information about all things seafood.
However, the team behind FishWatch.gov is looking to do an even better job bringing this useful information to the public, and they’re looking for your input. Please take a few minutes to explore the site, and then fill out this short survey to help NOAA Fisheries make FishWatch.gov an even better source of information.
They anticipate unveiling a new and improved website next year – we’ll be looking forward to checking it out!
The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) has some important questions to ask you:
- Do you eat wild, sustainable seafood or sell it in your restaurant?
- Do you dream of going to Alaska and/or have you already been to the Last Frontier?
- Do you believe that wild salmon matter and are worth protecting for future generations?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then we think you’re probably interested in taking a few minutes to help protect the millions of sockeye salmon that depend on Bristol Bay (along with more than 14,000 people’s jobs) from the threat of development. And not just any kind of development - the largest open-pit mine in North America, generating up to 10 billion tons of waste and threatening our nation’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.
On July 18th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft set of restrictions designed to protect Bristol Bay’s salmon from the harmful impacts of large-scale mining (in particular the proposed Pebble Mine). They are accepting public comments between now and September 19th - you can use this easy method to send a public comment to the EPA. But don’t delay – they will only be taking public comments on the proposal until September 19.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) scallop video survey team conducts an annual video survey of the George’s Bank scallop resource and this year’s study revealed some good news!
A press release from the SMAST team stated, “The video-based survey, conducted from May to July 2014, indicated a 32 percent, 77 million pound increase in the scallop population over 2012. The overall stock biomass measured in scallop meat weight is estimated at 320 million pounds compared 243 million pounds observed two years ago.”
According to the Chair of SMAST’s Department of Fisheries Oceanography, Dr. Kevin D. E. Stokesbury,
“Large increases of this size in scallop populations seem to occur once every 10 years or so. These small scallops will need to be monitored closely, tracking their distribution and any mortality. If protected and managed correctly these scallops could insure sustainable catches similar to those over the past 10 years for the next 10 years.“
Check out some footage from these annual video surveys - this short clip shows you the equipment used and has some nice footage of some sea life (who doesn’t love a good eel pout shot?)
And let your Santa Monica Seafood Rep know what kind of scallops you’re looking to add to your menu – we have a great selection!
It’s summertime, and our Responsible Sourcing Vendor Partner program grantees have been busy! Here are some updates from a few of our local California and Baja California projects! You can read more about each project on the RSVP webpage.
Fathom Consulting’s pelagic trawl gear improvement project is gearing up for the September field season where they expect to test the impacts of several different gear configurations on the sea floor. This involves working with the Monterey Sanctuary and the Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to monitor the effects the experimental gears have on the surrounding environment. Further modifications are being made to the experimental trawl gear to make it both more user friendly and cost effective for fishermen, as well as less impactful to the marine environment.
The California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP) has been a longstanding member of Santa Monica Seafood’s RSVP program, conducting research on fish populations within California Marine Protected Areas. Every summer they conduct volunteer angling trips to catch and tag fish – a really fun way to study! They are currently scheduling and gearing up for their volunteer trips to be conducted this summer and early fall. As a reminder, if you would like to be a volunteer angler, sign up here.
COBI is another organization we have funded for several years now, working with fishing cooperatives in the Magdalena Bay region of Baja California Sur on fisheries sustainability. We’ve received some pretty good news from Mag Bay: the fishing cooperative named “Bahía Magdalena” decided just last month to renew their marine protected area for 3 more years! Their initial commitment was for 5 years (ending in December 2014). It was a pretty hard decision to make since in the short term it represents a big financial sacrifice. This sets a great precedent for conservation in this area, which is hit particularly hard with bycatch and overfishing.
The Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research team is working with NOAA scientists on the preparation of a scientific manuscript that documents the vertical and horizontal movements of swordfish within the Pacific Leatherback Closure Area (PLCA). The work details the movements of 13 swordfish tagged within the closure area and describes the potential for alternative fishery options for west coast sword fishers. The PIER team is also preparing for additional Southern California deep-set buoy gear trials in 2014. The work will be performed with two cooperative fishers and focus on documenting catch, fisher acceptance and feasibility. Currently, all gear sets have been purchased and the teams are awaiting the arrival of the summer swordfish run off Southern California!
Thanks for being part of this great program!