By Anna Wolfe
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — EcoFish, a seafood distributor based here, is the first national distributor of seafood products certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
EcoFish distributes what it deems "ecologically friendly seafood," including Marine Stewardship Council's eco-friendly certified Alaskan salmon to natural food stores as well as restaurants.
The Alaska Salmon Fishery, Yakutat, Alaska, is the first U.S. fishery to earn certification. More than two-dozen fisheries are going through the Marine Stewardship Council's certification process.
"The Marine Stewardship Council label currently can only be applied to products from wild-catch fisheries. Our standard does not apply to aquaculture at this time though the Marine Stewardship Council is expected to address that at some point in the near future," said Karen Tarica, U.S. communications director of the Marine Stewardship Council.
EcoFish and the Marine Stewardship Council, with offices in Seattle and London, are dedicated to helping preserve the future of the world's seafood supply by promoting responsible fishing practices.
To bear the Marine Stewardship Council's eco-label, a fishery is inspected by a third-party certifier. The health of the fish stock at a fishery, the effect fishing has on the marine ecosystem and fishery management prac-tices are assessed. Once a fishery earns certification, processors and distributors undergo a chain of custody certifications proving the traceability of the certified fish. Products from certified fisheries can then use the eco-label.
"It takes time for a fishery to go through the assessment," depending on the complexity and size of the fishery, she said. "It is difficult to say when other certified products might be available," said Tarica.
The Marine Stewardship Council is an international, non-profit organization created by the World Wildlife Fund and consumer goods giant Unilever to help reverse the decline in the world's fisheries.
EcoFish carries other seafood, including wild fish, it feels has been harvested in a ecologically sustainable manner, said Henry Lovejoy, founder of EcoFish.
He and his wife, Lisa, founded the distribution company two years ago after working in the fishing industry for more than a decade.
"Our goal is to highlight healthy and well-managed fisheries, and offer our customers only ecologically sound seafood," he said.
The distributor has established a board of advisers including staff and marine biologists from the National Audubon Society and the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the New England Aquarium.
At press time, EcoFish's retail product line included wild coho salmon, Pacific halibut and albacore tuna that is "troll caught" -a technique similar to hook and line fishing, Lovejoy said.
EcoFish donates 25 percent of pretax profits to help organizations worldwide that preserve the world's marine resources.
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