Thursday, October 15, 2009

Prototype: California's Sustainable Seafood Bill -- Boosting a Green Economy

This week, California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law what is being called California's Sustainable Seafood Bill. It is essentially a prototype for other states and maybe nationally in the certification and promotion of sustainable seafood.

Currently, there is an Ocean Protection Council in California. This Council coordinates activities and sharing of data among all state agencies relating to ocean conservation and protection. What is unique about this bill is that it requires this Council to also "develop and implement a specified voluntary sustainable seafood promotion program." This program would guide fisherman and their companies on how to obtain international sustainable seafood certification, provide marketing assistance to them once they are certified, and also incentivize with a loan and grant program. Essentially, this is a great example of boosting a green economy.

Also, of note, this bill prohibits "seafood produced through aquaculture or fish farming from being certified as sustainable under these provisions until nationally or internationally accepted sustainability standards have been developed and implemented." Aquaculture is basically the same as fish farming -- sounds better to say aquaculture, but it's really the same thing. So, this bill sends a strong message about fish farming that it really is a cloudy practice that has little support. This was the feeling I also got when I attended a conference at The Monterey Bay Aquarium back in May -- far too many concerns about the sustainability of aquaculture and how it infects disease and pollution on the surrounding native fish population.

If you are concerned about the sustainability of the fish you eat, make it easy on yourself. Only purchase the Best Choices from the lists at Seafood Watch.

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