The recently passed bill by the state of California on Sustainable Seafood Labelling (SSL) will provide consumers an opportunity to identify where the seafood is sourced and how it is produced. Under the new law, the state's Ocean Protection Council will develop standards for what constitutes sustainable fishing practices and initiate labelling for seafood that meets these standards.
The bill was authored by state Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and was drafted in consultation with the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) as well as the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA). The new labelling bill is expected to promote the purchase and consumption of certified California sustainable seafood.
MBA is a unique oceanographic research centre which gives information on seafood sourcing through its popular ‘Seafood Watch’ programme. It gives details about which seafood is fished responsibly, which companies’ catch methods harm the environment and which fish farms operate under questionable standards. Likewise, the PCFFA is the largest and most politically active trade association of commercial fishermen on the west coast of the US.
Monning brought to the notice that a number of species that were absolutely in danger because they had been overfished. He said labelling would give consumers a choice whether they should opt for a product which was produced in an environment-friendly manner or not. He also said that the labelling would be a good marketing point, and those interested would be offered a marketing assistance programme and a competitive grant and loan programme under the new bill.
The SSL should meet or exceed the guidelines of the sustainability standards for the Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. However, the participation in the labelling programme is not mandatory. Experts believe the Californian labelling programme will have far-reaching implications on the seafood sourcing and production across the globe in the near future.
By Jose Roy
Sustainable Seafood Labelling to Provide Details on Origin