Last week a delegation of four employees from Quality Seafood Market attended the International Boston Seafood Show. The three day event is the largest seafood show in North America, with more than 869 exhibitors. Apart from touring the exhibition hall and making contacts with new purveyors, the Quality Seafood team attended several seminars designed to foster discussion among seafood industry parties. One panel was particularly relevant to our group: Rebuilding Consumer Confidence in Gulf Seafood.
The panel was comprised of representatives from the fields of fisheries management, oceanic science, and food service. The summit stressed the need to continually test Gulf seafood for safety, in the wake of the BP oil spill, as well as to educate the public about the industry’s ongoing efforts to keep the public food supply safe. Panelists cited that to-date nearly all of the previously closed fishing grounds have reopened (a mere 0.4% remain closed). The only population that has yet to recover are some populations of Gulf oysters, and the reason for their continued struggle is not due to oil contamination, but rather, the effect of freshwater diversion which was implemented in order to keep oil out of the bays. The experts also expounded that now, more than ever, the Gulf seafood industry needs to invest in sustainable fisheries management and implement transparent traceability standards that are accessible to the consumer. Panelists expressed their confidence in the launch of a new program, My Gulf Wild, designed to achieve these goals. Gulf Wild would essentially give the consumer the ability to trace – using a number visible on the tag of each fish – where the fish came from, who caught it, and when. Furthermore, Gulf Wild (among other public and private organizations) will continue testing Gulf seafood for contamination at an independent international research lab. Currently, the Gulf Wild tracking program only encompasses Gulf snapper and grouper. However, plans are in the works to extend the traceability standards to over 12 Gulf species of finfish.
Quality Seafood Market applauds the efforts of the fisherman and the scientists who are working continuously to keep the Gulf seafood supply safe. We plan to carry Gulf Wild products as soon as the program is launched.