seafood sustainability

The Scoop on Seafood Sustainability

By definition, seafood sustainability is the ability to indefinitely support a defined volume of harvesting while meeting social and economic demands, without overtaxing environmental resources.

The future of the seafood industry depends on the conscious decisions made today by the many seafood consumers it serves, and that includes Maines customers. If a particular type of seafood harvesting isn’t sustainable, that resource could be depleted and a species could be driven to extinction. Maines wants to be able to supply the best and most diversified seafood offerings for a long, long time. We feel it’s our responsibility to educate and inform our customers so they can make enlightened decisions about what to put on their menu.

Sustainability has a major impact on the food industry. If an industry’s practices aren’t sustainable, then the industry as a whole isn’t sustainable. Maines partners with and communicates daily with seafood suppliers who use the most sustainable practices and focus on the most sustainable fisheries. We’re constantly bringing in more products approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium “Green List.” In addition, sustainable farm-raised seafood products are becoming more prolific as the industry continues to grow and improve technology and best practices.

As a foodservice operator, sustainability is becoming less of an option and more of a necessity to cater to today’s conscious consumer, especially millennials who are drawn to restaurants that cater to this demographic’s sense of social drive. It’s such an important issue that the National Restaurant Association (NRA) has made reduction of commercial food waste a priority. NRA research found that 46% of consumers would dine at restaurants offering sustainable or organic food, and more than half of 18- to 24-year-olds want to go to restaurants that practice sustainability.
It may take more time and effort, but in the end it can pay off.

Restaurants and foodservice operators that offer sustainability options can cut costs and run more efficient businesses, resulting in attracting customers and keeping employees. Donating unused food will go a long way in building customer loyalty. Cutting back on waste and maximizing ingredient yield should be at the forefront of operators’ minds in running businesses in today’s restaurant industry.

Founded in England in 1996, Marine Stewardship Council is an international non-profit organization responsible for setting sustainable fishing standards. The organization works to ensure the health of the world’s oceans by creating food labels and certification that influences what consumers purchase by recognizing sustainable food practices of producers. Customers seek out seafood
products with the MSC label, which creates a powerful incentive for other fisheries to seek out the MSC certification.

To receive the certification a fishery must follow three core principles.

1. A fishery must maintain sustainable fish stock and must maintain a level of fishing that can be sustained without exploiting the resources of the stock.
2. The fishery must also work to maintain the diversity of the ecosystem where it is fishing.
3. The fishery must be able to manage not only local, national, and international laws of fishing but also respond quickly and effectively to changing circumstances to maintain sustainability.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Northern California uses consumer guides, their website, and mobile apps to raise awareness about sustainable seafood issues. They work with restaurants, distributors, and purveyors to help find the most sustainable seafood sources around the world, including two of the largest foodservice companies. The Green List sorts sources by Best Choices, Good Alternatives, and Avoid.