Publicado por: pongpesca | 2010/01/18

Beware of ‘bluewash’: Which fish should you buy?

Halibut can be either "endangered" or "at risk", depending on who you listen to (Image: Brytta/iStock)

Halibut can be either “endangered” or “at risk”, depending on who you listen to (Image: Brytta/iStock)

“ACTRESS Greta Scacchi posed naked clutching a large dead cod. The upmarket London restaurant Nobu was criticised for selling an endangered species of tuna. And the Pret A Manger sandwich chain stopped selling sushi made from yellowfin tuna in branches worldwide.

Campaigns to encourage diners and shoppers to question whether the seafood they buy is sustainable have hit the mainstream, thanks in no small part to The End of the Line, a 2009 documentary about overfishing. However, the advice given to consumers over sustainable seafood is inconsistent at best, and at worst, misleading.

“Putting too much emphasis on consumers is not an effective strategy” for preserving fisheries, says Jennifer Jacquet of the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre in Vancouver, Canada, who is lead author of a study comparing dozens of sustainable seafood initiatives published in this month’s Oryx (DOI: 10.1017/S0030605309990470). “There is simply too much mislabelling, too much misleading information, too many inconsistencies and, so far, too few results.”

There is little consensus on what constitutes a “sustainable” fishery. Jacquet points out that while most schemes agree on high-profile species such as the Atlantic bluefin tuna, six organisations rank Atlantic halibut as a species to avoid, while Friends of the Sea recommends it as sustainable. Jacquet identifies conflicting advice for other species including bigeye tuna, lingcod, Atlantic haddock and albacore tuna.

Fisheries researchers question the accuracy of counting methods and modelling. For example, in one of the best-managed fisheries in the world – the eastern Bering Sea – one study identified 30 per cent fewer walleye pollock than models had predicted, suggesting the modelling was flawed (Science, vol 326, p 1340).

Even when accurate information is available, classification usually depends not just on species, but on location and fishing method. As a result, the average consumer could easily find the advice confusing. A wallet card produced by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, for example, has 12 different entries for tuna.

The study’s authors fear that the inconsistency and confusion could be exploited to sell products that do not meet rigorous standards. The greenwashing that some companies have employed to falsely boost their eco-credentials “could turn into ‘bluewashing’ today”, they say.

They conclude that governments, not consumers, should take the lead to protect fisheries by legislating on the amount of seafood used in animal feed, for instance. “We do not argue against the principle that consumers should make a point of choosing products that reflect their ideals,” adds Jacquet. “However, working with household consumers alone cannot save fish.””

Fonte: New Scientist – Nic Fleming – 12 de Janeiro de 2010


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