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'Smart Catch' Seeks To Tell Consumers If Their Seafood Habits Are Sustainable

Bellamy Pailthorp


Making sure seafood is both healthy and sustainable can be complicated.

A new label called Smart Catch is trying to change that. Launched in Seattle, Smart Catch attempts to make consumers aware of how their purchased seafood came to their plates by placing a seal of approval on restaurant menus.

Credit AP Images
Crabs on display at the Southwest Waterfront seafood market.

Trevor Branch, an assistant professor of Fishery Science at the University of Washington, says the new label fills an important niche.

“The key here is that the restaurants don’t have to go and do all the research themselves, the program comes in and looks at their menu and figures out if it’s sustainable or not," Branch said.

Smart Catch allows chefs to display the company logo on menus if the restaurants have agreed to follow recommendations in support of sustainable seafood harvests. This means 90 percent of the menu must meet Smart Catch criteria.

"And from the consumer’s side of it you just need to go to a restaurant that has the label, and you know most of the food that’s on the menu is going to be sustainable,” Branch added.

The criteria comes from two already recognized standards – the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and the NOAA Fisheries’ federal Fish Stock Sustainability Index.
Smart Catch advocates say two thirds of the seafood consumed in the United States is eaten in restaurants. The new label is an initiative from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc.



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