Target discontinues sale of net-cage farmed salmon
Also in this issue:
- Closed containment salmon farm receives first-time best choice ranking
- Aquaculture expansion in BC frozen until December 2010
Target discontinues sale of net-cage farmed salmon
Retail chain Target, the largest discount store in the United States, has just announced its plan to eliminate all farmed salmon from its fresh, frozen, and smoked seafood offerings in all of their stores. The company will also stop selling sushi made with farmed salmon by the end of the year. With 1,744 stores in 49 states, this is a huge victory for the sustainable seafood movement!
“Target is taking this important step to ensure that its salmon offerings are sourced in a sustainable way that helps to preserve abundance, species health and doesn’t harm local habitats” the company said in their January 26, 2010 news release. The release also cited environmental impacts such as pollution, chemicals, parasites and non-native farmed fish that escape from salmon farms, all affecting the natural habitat and native salmon in proximity to net-cage salmon farms. Only wild-caught salmon products will be sold through Target stores now.
Also encouraging, Safeway in the US has announced a partnership with FishWise to develop and implement a comprehensive sustainable seafood policy. FishWise is a well-established program assisting business in the implementation of sustainable seafood policies and practices. Safeway says this will lead to a more sustainable product selection over time however it is not clear if or when they will cease the sale of net-cage farmed salmon. But given that FishWise uses the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s (MBA) ranking system, and MBA ranks farmed salmon as “red” or “avoid”, CAAR hopes to see open net-cage reared farmed salmon phased out over time.
By choosing to sell only environmentally responsible seafood products, the retail and grocery sector can make a critically important contribution towards resolving the environmental and social threats presented by the open net-cage salmon farming industry. But they have not done this on their own. These progressive steps are the result of pressure from environmental groups and ecologically conscious and vocal consumers like you. As a result, it is becoming clear to retailers that supporting unsustainable practices like open net-cage salmon farming is bad for business!
Send a thank you email to CEO Gregg Steinhafel to show your support for Target’s decision to drop farmed salmon!
Pacific coho salmon farmed in a closed containment facility is the first of its kind to receive a positive ranking from a prestigious sustainable seafood program. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program issued a green “Best Choice” rating on their website for the salmon raised in freshwater, land-based tanks at Washington-based AquaSeed Corp., and sold under their SweetSpring label.
The criteria for sustainability is based on an intensive process involving site visits by Seafood Watch scientists and inspections of the company’s production facilities. The closed tanks eliminate the impacts associated with open net-cages such as escapes, sea lice infestation and pollution of the marine environment. Other sustainability issues such as feed ratios are also addressed – a high-end salmon feed and selective breeding helps minimize fishmeal use, reducing the ratio of pounds of wild feed fish required to produce pounds of farmed fish to 1.1 to one. AquaSeed says there’s even room for improvement from there.
Water quality in the tanks is also controlled, therefore contaminants such as mercury and PCBs are eliminated from the process making the fish healthier for human consumption. The product is also featured on Seafood Watch’s newly created Super Green List, which denotes that the fish is good for human health without causing harm to the ocean.
Building on this success, AquaSeed Corp. is preparing to rapidly expand production and is already working with large purchasers such as Compass Group and Whole Foods.
As unsustainable aquaculture practices like net-cage salmon farming continue to damage the environment and lose favour with consumers, innovative companies like AquaSeed Corp. are changing the game. Farmed salmon, currently on the ‘red- avoid’ list when it comes to sustainable seafood, can be farmed in a way that respects the environment, while meeting increasing demand for this heart-healthy fish.
Canada’s federal government was ordered by the BC Supreme Court to take over regulatory authority of finfish aquaculture from the provincial government on February 10, 2010. Still in the process of preparing its regulatory framework, the federal government was granted an extension on this deadline to December 18, 2010. The court also ordered a freeze on all new farm approvals on licenses within this timeframe. The Province then announced a moratorium on all new fish farm applications as well as a freeze on all new shellfish aquaculture licenses.
Although temporary, it is great news that for the next eleven months there is no threat of new open net-cage salmon farms increasing pressure on BC’s environment. In particular, this stalls a proposal by Grieg Seafood for two massive new salmon farms – Gunner Point and Yorke Island – along a key Fraser sockeye migratory route in the Johnstone Strait. This location is already full of net-cage salmon farms and wild salmon can’t afford to face another farm spreading disease, parasites and waste in this area.