Consumers who buy one company’s swordfish caught off eastern Florida will see a blue and white label at the store that assures them the fish was caught with utmost care for life in the Atlantic Ocean.
The company awarded the ecolabel, Day Boat Seafood of Lake Park, Fla., says it’s a reward for years of working to take only fish from a healthy population. Conservationists, however, are concerned because most of the company’s swordfish are caught on surface longlines, which sometimes stretch for 30 miles, with hundreds of hooks.
“Long-line fisheries catch whatever is swimming by,” said Teri Shore of SeaTurtles.org, an advocacy group that objected to the certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). “It’s not sustainable for the oceans.”
The MSC’s certification for Day Boat Seafood, granted in December, was the first for any fish in the world caught on ocean-surface longlines.
The eastern Canadian longline swordfish industry, which is five times larger and sells mainly to the United States, is waiting for a decision, expected soon, about whether it will also get the MSC’s label.. An assessor reviewed the case of the Canadian fishery and recommended certification. An independent judge is reviewing objections.
The label is a marketing tool. Some consumers make purchase decisions based on it. Stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Whole Foods say they intend to carry MSC-certified fish.
The MSC website says its vision is “the world’s oceans teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.” The MSC sets standards and grants its certification once an independent assessor determines they’re met.
Shore said that one of her biggest concerns is that the MSC doesn’t consider how the effects in different places add up.