The National Organic Program is reviewing whether food crops grown in soilless hydroponic and aquaponic systems should be considered for certification and labeling as USDA Organic. If you would like to submit a public comment, the written deadline is October 26th, oral comments via webinar can be made November 3rd, and in-person comments can be made at the meeting Nov 18th. Read the full Hydroponic and Aquaponic Task Force report.
Hurricane Matthew has inundated and submerged dozens of industrial animal production sites in Eastern North Carolina. Swine lagoons burst following Hurricane Floyd that hit the region in 1999, which led to influx of phosphorus, nitrogen, algal blooms in coastal estuaries and large fish kills. Stay tuned in the coming weeks to months to track the impact Hurricane Mathew will have on downstream industries including recreational and commercial fisheries and aquaculture. Read more at the Washington Post. Read More >
A shocking discovery of forced labor was discovered among the Hawaiian fishing fleet. The results of an AP investigation calls into question the ethics of the fishing industry. Wholesalers and retailers on the West Coast are scrambling to identify whether their products were caught with forced labor. Read more at the AP.
The third annual Our Ocean conference, hosted by the U.S. State Department, is scheduled for September 15 – 16 in Washington D.C. Foci for the conference will be marine protected areas, ocean pollution, climate change, and sustainable fisheries including traceability. Read more at the Our Ocean conference website. Read More >
And the survey says… seafood consumers care about sustainability. Nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents agree that shoppers should only purchase from sustainable sources. Sustainability was ranked as more important than price or brand, but only 54% of respondents were willing to pay more for certified sustainable products, such as Marine Stewardship Council approved products. The study findings were drawn from a population of 16,000 consumers from 21 countries including the U.S. Read more at World Fish and Aquaculture. Read More >
In past issues we have reported on labor abuses in overseas seafood harvesting and in processing plants. A new report from the National Guestworker Alliance now points to problems in domestic seafood processing plants. The report included two states, Louisiana and Massachusetts, where workers face substandard housing, a lack of overtime pay, workplace injuries, and sexual harassment. Read more at Mother Jones and our blogpost on forced labor and workers rights at the Livable Future Blog. Read More >
Larger oyster farms may be coming soon to the Chesapeake Bay, as the Army Corps of Engineers aims to overhaul the permitting process. That’s a good thing for aquaculturists, local halfshell lovers, and the environment, because oysters are filter feeders that clean up the Bay. Read more at the Bay Journal.
In more Chesapeake Bay news, Virginia leads the nation in hard clam sales and leads the East Coast in oyster sales. Congratulations Karen Hudson and Thomas Murray on the 10th anniversary of the Virginia hatchery-based shellfish aquaculture assessment! Read more at VIMS. Read More >
The USDA Organic aquaculture standards are grinding slowly through government agency approvals, and are currently in review at the Office of Management and Budget, as reported by the Global Aquaculture Alliance. Read more at their website.
Until the U.S. sorts out organic aquaculture standards and labeling, consumers must rely on third-party labels. One such group, GLOBAL GAP, just released a new consumer label for certified farmed seafood. Read more at The Fish Site. Read More >
I was first introduced to labor rights in the food industry after watching the documentary Food Chain$. The film, which was screened in Baltimore, exposes the plight of Immokalee tomato pickers, organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), and their goal of raising wages by a penny a pound for tomatoes picked in Florida. They were successful in convincing most retailers and wholesalers to meet their demands, and CIW received national attention when the Obama Administration issued them a Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. These high-profile campaigns are raising awareness among consumers and challenging food companies to discuss labor rights. Read More >
An astounding 23 million farmed Atlantic salmon have died in Chile due to an algal bloom. About nine percent of salmon farms in southern Chile were affected, at a cost of about $800 million U.S. Chile is a major salmon exporter to the U.S. El Niño conditions have led to unusually warmer ocean waters that allow algae to multiply. Read more at Reuters.
In the past few months we have posted several stories about net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes. Recently, three Michigan state agencies have publicly stated opposition to net-pen farms in Lake Michigan because of environmental risks, and potential adverse effects on tourism and recreational fishing. Read more at the Detroit Free Press. Read More >
Aquaculture and Fisheries Policy
This month NOAA released a draft proposal for new seafood traceability requirements for 13 species to stem imports of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fish. While the plan is a good first step, our colleague Beth Lowell of Oceana would like to see the plan go further by adding three components in the final rule: “1) it needs to apply to all seafood; 2) products need to be traced throughout the entire supply chain to final point of sale; and 3) if there is a phase-in implementation process, there must be a concrete timeline to expand the rule to all species and extend traceability from boat to plate in the final rule.” Read more: The Hill and Food Safety News.
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The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) 2015 – 2020 were released last week and many public health and sustainable food system experts were dismayed over the exclusion of sustainability considerations. It appears politics played a large role in deciding not to include sustainability–which was in the report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which the DGA is based on. The specific guidelines for seafood look very similar to past dietary guidelines; Americans are advised to eat two servings per week, which would double current average consumption. Read the seafood related guidelines at the DGA website, CLF’s reaction to the DGA on our blog, and our public comment with suggestions on what to include in the DGA’s seafood recommendations, which we submitted in May while the guidelines were under development.
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