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New “Super Green” List Elevates Vital Choice Selection
10/22/2009
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Monterey Bay Aquarium lists seafood that’s both fully sustainable and extra-healthful… several of our offerings made the grade, and several more should have
by Craig Weatherby


The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program is recognized as a top guide to sustainably produced wild and farmed seafood.

That's why we've long lent the MBA program substantial financial support, continue to contribute, and distribute the pocket Seafood Watch guide to customers.

The MBA Seafood Watch guide divides fisheries into Best Choice, Good, and Avoid categories, based on the latest research into fish stocks and fishery practices, to identify the species and fisheries that meet reasonable standards of sustainability.

Earlier this week, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) announced a new category of seafood called “Super Green choices.

Combining the work of conservation and public health organizations, the Monterey Bay Aquarium identified seafood that is good for human health and does not harm the oceans.

Vital Choice and sustainability
Most of our seafood offerings already appear on the MBA Seafood Watch “Best Choice” list, and the rest are categorized as Good.

You can see for yourself by using the searchable widget created for the documentary End of the Line, which reveals the MBA Seafood Watch ratings of many common seafood choices.

For more information about our policies and the green status of our seafood, visit our Sustainability Page.

New “Super Green” standard adds health criteria to sustainability
Their new “Super Green” list includes seafood products on the MBA’s current Seafood Watch “Best Choices” list of fully sustainable fisheries.

But to make it onto the “Super Green” list, a seafood must also be low in environmental contaminants and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

The Super Green list includes only seafood that meets three criteria:
  1. Low levels of contaminants (below 216 parts per billion [ppb] mercury and 11 ppb PCBs)
  2. The daily minimum of omega-3s (at least 250 milligrams per day [mg/d])**
  3. Classified as a Seafood Watch “Best Choice” (fully sustainable “green” fishery)
To compile the list, the MBA consulted scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

These are the MBA’s new “Super Green” seafood choices as of October 2009, which divides seafood into two subcategories. Our offerings are highlighted.

The Best of the Best

Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)

Mussels (farmed)

Oysters (farmed)

Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)*

Pink Shrimp (wild-caught, from Oregon)

Rainbow Trout (farmed)

Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)

Spot Prawns (wild-caught, from British Columbia)

Other Healthy “Best Choices”

Arctic Char (farmed)

Bay Scallops (farmed)**

Crayfish (farmed, from the U.S.)

Dungeness Crab (wild-caught, from California, Oregon or Washington)***

Longfin Squid (wild-caught, from the U.S. Atlantic)

Pacific Cod (longline-caught, from Alaska)

*Our canned Portuguese Chub Mackerel and Portuguese Sardines come from fisheries that considered fully sustainable, and both are high in omega-3s.

**Our Alaskan Weathervane Sea Scallops come from a fishery certified sustainable by the State of Alaska, and they approach the omega-3 content of farmed bay scallops (0.19g/100g in bay scallops, vs. 0.13g/100g in our scallops).

***Our Alaskan Red King Crab comes from a fishery certified sustainable by the State of Alaska, and its omega-3 content (0.4g/100g) actually exceeds the omega-3 content of Dungeness Crab (0.3g/100g).

Our comments on the Super Green list
We applaud the concept, and have only two quibbles with the current MBA list.
  • The “Super Green” criteria should have considered vitamin D content, in light of recent research that’s elevated the “sunshine and seafood” vitamin to lofty new heights of preventive health value. Wild salmon and albacore tuna rank as the richest vitamin D food sources by far, with halibut, sablefish, and sardines providing ample amounts.
  • The list omits a number of fisheries that meet all three criteria, such as Alaskan sablefish, Alaskan halibut*, Portuguese sardines, and Portuguese chub mackerel.
*While halibut is not especially rich in omega-3s, it has about 250mg per 3 oz servings, so it meets that MBA criteria. And the smaller, younger halibut we select has the same extra-low mercury levels (0.08ppm) as our Albacore tuna, which made it onto the Super Green list. For full data, see our Nutrients & Mercury chart.

Vital Choice and sustainability
Most of our seafood offerings already appear on the MBA Seafood Watch “Best Choice” list, and the rest are categorized as Good.

You can see for yourself by using the searchable widget created for the documentary End of the Line, which reveals the MBA Seafood Watch ratings of many common seafood choices.

For more information about our policies and the green status of our seafood, visit our Sustainability Page.

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