Federal Agencies including Park Service Drop Private Certification Requirements for 'Sustainable Seafood'; Will use NOAA FishWatch
Both NPS and GSA have changed their "sustainable seafood" guidelines.
WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) September 25, 2013 -- Both the National Park Service (NPS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have changed their "sustainable seafood" guidelines to focus on data from NOAA FishWatch instead of third-party ratings and certifications from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program.
The GSA, a federal agency that supplies food to other government agencies, has updated their "Heath and Sustainability Guidelines" to be in accordance with NOAA's federal sustainability data. Previously, the guidelines instructed vendors to "only offer fish/seafood identified as 'Best Choices' or 'Good Alternatives' on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch list or certified by the Marine Stewardship Council."
The Agency's seafood sustainability standards are modified in the guideline's footnotes. Footnote 44 and footnote 44* indicate a clear change from their previous policy:
44. Examples of "Best Choices" do not imply government endorsement of these standards. Only endorsements made directly by governing agencies (e.g., USDA, FDA) should be considered government endorsements.
44.* The NOAA FishWatch Program defines sustainable seafood as "catching or farming seafood responsibly, with consideration for the long-term health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people that depend upon the environment." Verifying the health and sustainability of U.S. and international fisheries is not always simple. Domestic fisheries are managed by State and Federal agencies under legally established fisheries management plans. International fisheries are managed under sovereign laws and international treaties. Guidance on how to make sustainable seafood choices is found on the NOAA FishWatch site at: www.fishwatch.gov/buying_seafood/choosing_sustainable.htm.
Following a meeting between NOAA and NPS officials, NPS has also changed their seafood sustainability guidelines. In a letter addressed to all Regional Directors, NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis announced that the NPS "Healthy and Sustainable Food Program" guidelines includes the revision:
"Where seafood options are offered, provide those procured from responsibly managed, sustainable healthy fisheries."
This breaks away from a previous policy to only offer seafood certified by MSC or rated as a "Best Choice" or "Good Alternative" under Seafood Watch guidelines.
View the new GSA "Heath and Sustainability Guidelines"
Read the letter from NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis to NPS Regional Directors
Read previous coverage on this issue from Saving Seafood
Read the Saving Seafood Special Report on Third Party Seafood Certifications and Guidelines
See Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski's press release on the new guideline revisions