New fish guide makes a splash

First on my radar was the Marine Stewardship Council Seal, which uses color codes to recognize sustainable fishing. Then I found out about the SeaWeb KidSafe Seafood Guide, which recommends best fish choices for children based on mercury levels and ocean friendliness. Now the Washington Post has alerted me to the new Monterey Bay Aquarium Super Green list, which ranks fish based on three criteria: health (omega-3 fatty acid levels), safety (mercury and PCB levels) and environmental attributes (Seafood Watch “Best Choice” status).

One surprise for me: Albacore tuna is a best catch, according to Super Green. But not just any tuna. Super Green specifies albacore tuna that is troll- or pole-caught and from the United States or British Columbia. And the top ranking applies only in October 2009 because the status of fish might change over time.

The devil, apparently, is in the details. And that’s where consumers can get confused as they wade through the sea of information about fish. How do you educate your customers about fish? Which ranking system, if any, do you choose to use at your fish counter? Are your customers more concerned with health or the environment or both? The answer may determine which ranking system is best for your store.

The Best of the Best: October 2009

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)

SOURCE: Monterey Bay Aquarium Super Green list

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