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National Fisheries Institute Questions National Park Service's Planned Use of Monterey Bay & MSC Seafood Ratings
WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) June 19, 2013 -- In a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, John Connelly, President of the National Fisheries Institute, takes issue with a National Park Service proposal to modify food offerings in national parks, by implementing its Sustainable Food Choice Guidelines for seafood. The guidelines state: "where seafood options are offered, provide only those that are 'Best Choices' or 'Good Alternatives' on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list, certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, or identified by an equivalent program that has been approved by the NPS."

Mr. Connelly writes that the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the law managing US fisheries, is "a rigorous, participatory, and transparent system that ensures fish caught in US waters is sustainable." Because of this, and fisheries management that is "recognized as one of the best in the world," Mr. Connelly states that fish caught in the United States do not need additional third-party certification.

Mr Connelly also recommends NOAA's Fish Watch program as a source of information on sustainable seafood, stating that it "provides 'easy-to-understand science-based facts' to help vendors and consumers alike make smart sustainable seafood choices."

The full text of the letter is reproduced below.

The Honorable Sally Jewell
United States Department of the Interior
1951 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Secretary Jewell:

Congratulations on your new initiative to promote healthy food options for the millions of visitors who travel to our National Parks. Encouraging Americans to enjoy healthy diets, especially those that include seafood, is an important mission of the National Fisheries Institute.

Our organization, which represents the full seafood value chain in the United States, requests more information to better understand what Interior and the National Parks Service means by "sustainable seafood" and what counts as "certified sustainable seafood" in the new guidelines for vendors.

The Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oversee implementation of the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA), our nation's fisheries law. MSA is a rigorous, participatory, and transparent system that ensures fish caught in U.S. waters is sustainable. The science-based fisheries management system managed by NOAA is recognized as one of the best in the world. Moreover, NOAA's Fish Watch program provides "easy-to- understand science-based facts" to help vendors and consumers alike make smart sustainable seafood choices.

As the National Park Service develops the healthy food standards for its vendors, we ask you to recognize that any fish caught in U.S. waters is already "certified sustainable," based on rigorous NOAA oversight and does not need additional certifications. Similarly, any fish grown in the United States must follow strict state and federal laws.

Additional government requirements for third party certifications serve to increase costs and undermine the credibility and good work that Commerce and other regulators already oversee. In other words, why would Interior and NPS require third party certification of seafood sustainability if Commerce were doing its job well?

Please let me know if you have questions or concerns, although your federal partners at NOAA and Commerce and those regulating aquacultured fish are probably even better suited to ensure you fully appreciate the rigor of their system.


John Connelly
National Fisheries Institute

The Honorable Cameron Kerry
Acting Secretary, Department of Commerce U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan
Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20230

The Honorable Jon Jarvis Director, National Park Service 1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Representative Doc Hastings
Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources 1203 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Representative Ed Markey
Ranking Member, House Committee on Natural Resources 2108 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Read a PDF of the letter here



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