Sustainability: Code for Profit?

More news from the Front Lines of The War on Fish: In today’s NY Times, an Op-Ed, “Eat Your Hake and Have It, Too,” by Ray Hilborn and Ulrike Hilborn, adds a voice of reason to the generally shrill, histrionic, misguided, and contextually limited debate on sustainability and fish.

Rather than ban certain types of fish, as Whole Foods has done, with devastating effects for folks whose livelihood it is to catch them, the authors of the piece suggest that, “we can harvest a certain fraction of a fish population that has been overfished, if we allow for the natural processes of birth and growth to replace what we take from the ocean and to rebuild the stock. Instead of calling on consumers to abstain from all overfished species, we should direct our attention at fisheries that consistently take more fish than can be naturally replaced.”

The authors go on to note the sheer inconsistency of Whole Foods in targeting fish as a product that requires greater vigilance: “At the same time, we should recognize that seafood-labeling systems hold seafood to much higher standards than other forms of agriculture. The same stores that won’t sell an overfished species are selling other foods whose production affects the environment far more.  During a recent visit to a Whole Foods store in Seattle, we saw no evaluation of the environmental impact of the meat being sold. Free-range chickens were labeled, but there were no labels telling us if pesticide and fertilizer runoff from growing the corn used to feed the beef caused dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, or if the soybeans came from land clear-cut out of the Brazilian rain forest.”

You have to wonder who benefits from the regulatory standards applied to fish.  Yes?  You in the back.  Right, industry with fish that is not labelled as “unsustainable” have, when other fish are taken off the market or banned or boycotted, products that are more valued and for which they can get more money.

So is sustainability code for profit?  Just askin’…

This is a dollar bill:

This is an endangered, blue fin tuna:

Clear 1 dollar banknote pattern for design purposes Stock Photo - 10083984

 

 

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