Grow Your Local Fish

By / Magazine / October 15th, 2010 / 2

In an ongoing attempt to act responsibly, more and more grocery stores are implementing a sustainable fisheries policy. Loblaw Company, Whole Foods and other chains across Canada have begun selling sustainable fish species, and launching ads meant to educate consumers about the choices they make. Fortinos, a Loblaw Company subsidiary, typically places empty metal trays in the display case among trays filled with fish. The empty trays are labelled with endangered fish species that would have been sold at the store prior to their commitment to sustainable fishing. As a consumer looking at all of the empty trays, one suddenly comes to understand how many fish species are in trouble.

The latest grocery store chain to take part is Metro, which will begin offering its customers fresh and frozen wild and farmed seafood products from sustainable fisheries by June 2011. Started already, Metro will temporarily withdraw seven threatened species, including Atlantic cod (West), bluefin tuna, orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, New Zealand hoki, skate and shark from its shelves. These species will be substituted with other products and might be reintroduced in the future if scientific reports indicate that their stocks have climbed back up to acceptable levels.

In order to make it easier for consumers to trace seafood products and make informed decisions, Metro (like other grocery stores that have signed on to the new policy) has developed a ore transparent labelling system. The new labels will feature the common name of the fish as well as the scientific name, the product’s origin, the fishing type and the presence of a standard, if possible.

Here are the criteria by which these grocery stores decide which fish species to sell.

1. Fish will only be purchased from certain fishing areas and species whose renewal is ensured based on individual stock and catch rates.
2. Fisheries and aquafarms supplying grocery stores will have to prove that they use sustainable fishing methods.
3. The supply chain — from the fishing area to the consumer — must be documented so that the store can easily provide that information to the consumer on the label.


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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