Kona Blue Says Attack on Kona Kampachi®’s “Good Alternative Ranking” Unwarranted

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P’fish’ers,
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Please see this week’s Business Wire article citing anti-aquaculture organization Food & Water Watch’s campaign against Kona Kampachi, a yellowtail raised in Hawaii.
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Unfortunately, it can be very confusing to sort out the “good” versus “bad” when environmental groups have varying opinions themselves. For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has a well-known card called “Seafood Watch” that lists Kona Kampachi as a good alternative to buy and to eat.
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I wholeheartedly agree with Kona Blue’s president Neil Sims when he says that objective, rational standards for assessing the sustainability of seafood is sorely needed. Thank you, Neil.
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At Passionfish, we have featured Kona Blue and its Kona Kampachi in several of our events and promotions.

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Passionfish Co-Founder Presents Sustainable Seafood Event March 24 in San Diego

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Att’n P’fish’ers:
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Passionfish Co-Founder Andrew Spurgin will create a delicious lobster rouille and talk about sustainability at the March 24 “Cooks Confab” at the beautiful Hotel del Coronado. Please see details below and plan your trip now:
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On March 24, 1500 OCEAN at the Hotel del Coronado, Chef de Cuisine Brian Sinnott and the Cooks Confab are pleased to present a focus on sustainable seafood. Chef Sinnott will be joined by fellow “Cooks Confab” Chefs who will interact with guests and educate about sustainable food. The evening will include eight courses prepared by the Confab chefs. Courses such as a Tasting of “Crudo” and Citrus Trio by Chef Sinnott, Striped Sea Bass with Saffron Broth and Lobster Rouille by Andrew Spurgin of Waters Fine Catering, and a special dessert by Jack Fisher of Jack Fisher Confections are just a few of the delicious items being served. Cuisine will be paired with Cloudy Bay wines selected by ENO Wine Director and Sommelier Ted Glennon.
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The Cooks Confab is a consortium of San Diego’s premier chefs who believe in “farm and sea to table regional cuisine” and enjoy the camaraderie of cooking together for their dearest friends and clients. The Confab chefs participating in this event will be Executive Chef Christian Graves of Jsix at Hotel Solamar; Executive Chef Antonio Friscia of Stingaree; Executive Chef and Director Andrew Spurgin of Waters Fine Catering; Jack Fisher of Jack Fisher Confections; Chef de Cuisine Timothy Kolanko of A.R. Valentien at the Lodge at Torrey Pines; Executive Chef Jason Knibb of Nine Ten, Executive Chef Nathan Coulon of the Ivy Hotel, and Executive Chef Brian Malarkey of Oceanaire Seafood Room.
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“Having all this talent in the 1500 OCEAN kitchen will be amazing,” says Chef Sinnott. “The creative energy is contagious. This dinner is definitely not-to-be-missed.”
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The March 24 “Sustainable Seafood” reception and dinner begins at 6pm and costs $95 per person (includes wine pairings, tax and gratuity).
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Please call 619-522-8490 for reservations. Visit www.Dine1500OCEAN.com for more information about 1500 OCEAN.
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P’fish’ers: Here’s a follow-up blog feature from Alice Q. Foodie about the event.

How can “kill it, cook it, eat it” be sustainable?

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Hello P’fish’ers:
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After our Passionfish co-founder Andrew Spurgin was interviewed recently on an hour-long radio talk show, “Gourmet Club” on Sign-On San Diego, he received the following question/comment from a listener:
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“This whole sustainable seafood thing makes me wonder. How does something remain sustainable if you kill it, cook it, and then eat it? This whole chain of events seems to me to be pretty non-sustainable and final for the seafood that’s involved. Thanks.”
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Andrew and Passionfish’s Executive Director Carl Rebstock have this eloquent response (for our vegan or part-time vegetarian friend):
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Sustainability really is a matter of perspective. From a fisheye point of view, ending up on and looking up from a dinner plate has an unmistakable finality to it: “sustainability” sounds like a raw deal when you’re being sliced into sushi. By contrast, we humans who must eat to survive must believe that this fish won’t be our last—that seafood will remain plentiful and that we live in times of abundance.
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The issue then becomes not so much of viewpoint but of worldview. Do we assume some personal responsibility for the sustainability of those resources that we consume or do we trust that others are doing so? One path demands a sort of social contract to become conscientious consumers of what must die to keep us alive.
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The other path works only when those we trust—the corporations, trade associations, nongovernmental organizations, or federal agencies—are held accountable by a populace that is active in the democratic process.
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As you can see, in either case, an engaged society is what keeps the system that sustains us from becoming disengaged.
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We at Passionfish believe that this bone-deep commitment to nurturing the natural world flows from knowledge, reverence, and the confidence that sustainability is attainable. We seek to inform, inspire, and involve seafood lovers in helping make market mechanisms responsive and responsible to the perspective that everyone deserves abundant and wholesome fish. Catch it, kill it, cook it, eat it, and enjoy it knowing it isn’t the last—when fisheries are managed “sustainably” — that is, when their populations are maintained at levels where they can recover and reproduce.
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Note: Passionfish subscribes to the not-always-easy-to-grasp definition of sustainability developed by the United Nations Brundtland Commission: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This also means we totally get the “Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

Our for-profit “fin” launches new design “for guys and gals without gills”

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That’s right, Passionfishers… today we launched our newest design of kids’ apparel at Fashionfish, an incredibly sauve octopus strummin’ on a shovelnose guitarfish. This guy, like a few of our designs, is printed using water-based inks on 100% certified organic cotton. Yes, it’s a little more expensive, but right now, there are people who like both the regular cotton and the organic cotton options so we sell both as we navigate the “sustainability” (and affordability) of these complicated matters.
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Deloitte study: People concerned about food origin and safety

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Hello Passionfish’ers,
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Recently, the polling and consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu announced the results of a survey it conducted showing that Americans are willing to pay more for their food when product labels provide more information about a its wholesomeness and origin. Of the 1,100 Americans surveyed, 61 percent said they are concerned about nutritional healthfulness, 49 percent said they are concerned about the safety of the ingredients, and 49 percent are concerned with the safety of processing and packaging procedures. It’s clear that a lot of Americans are weary of how effective any government can be in watching out for what we eat.
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In June, Deloitte released a study called Food and Beverage 2012. This research focused on health, nutrition, and corporate accountability; regulatory directives; greenhouse gas emissions and the carbon footprint; food miles versus sustainable development; manufacturing strategies: outsourcing and private label; the role of private equity; and increasing commodity prices and new supply-chain models. May not sound interesting but it is! The “non-surprise” is that issues are not so clear cut as we are led to believe.
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Let’s look more closely at seafood. Over the past several years there has been a push to buy local. It is a great idea for many reasons: support local economies, lessen reliance on over-burdened federal food inspectors, increase regional responsibility for production practices that don’t wreck local habitats, and so on. We touched on this topic in our previous posting about buying local wild and farmed seafood.
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“Buying local” means different things to different people. Some insist that food be bought from one’s immediate neighborhood, town, city, or region (however ill defined this may be). Others think in terms of buying US-caught or farmed seafood. Of course, if your local area doesn’t have the food you desire, tough luck. That takes getting used to.
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But a curve ball came hurdling at the “buying local” mantra in a December 2006 issue of the magazine, The Economist. The authors found that contemporary food distribution systems have evolved very efficiently. Their research indicated that rather than shoppers independently driving to multiple “local” locations there is actually less of a carbon footprint when shoppers patronize central grocery stores. [Better still will be the day when mass transit is convenient and economical or when cities are designed to walk or bike to access amenities.]
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I don’t know. It’s not easy. Such things never are. They challenge us to shift our paradigms, to consider what’s counterintuitive. The last decade has seen a number of mind-bending books to accompany this article in The Economist. These include Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”, which suggests that snap judgments can yield conclusions superior to laborious analysis; James Surowiecki’s “The Wisdom of Crowds”, which argues that large groups of lay people may trump small groups of experts; Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail”, which posits that lots of money can be made by selling merchandise few people want; Michael Heller’s “The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives”, which contends that when too many people have control over a resource it is likely to be underutilized (the opposite of the exploitation witnessed by the tragedy of the commons); and Gary Nabhan’s “Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods”, which demonstrates that creating markets for species-at-risk is an ideal means of enlisting entrepreneurs in reversing perilous neglect. As Passionfish reveals time and again, few issues are black and white. Lasting solutions tend to reside in the gray area between the extremes. No, it’s not sexy and certainly not the most “fundable” way to look at things.
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So, this brings us back to the Deloitte study. It seems reasonable that increasing the practice of aquaculture, or farming fish, is worth considering. It has amazing potential to help us all “live right and light.” Take tilapia, a fish that is growing in popularity and easy to grow. It is yummy and healthy. By increasing supply while decreasing “food miles” we improve food security and public nutrition.
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Farming seafood in the United States is a relatively new industry. We are a country with high environmental standards and discerning consumers who want to know what the heck is in their food. We can do this right, so long as we don’t allow innovation to be shut down by clinging to simple solutions which treat symptoms but neglect causal problems.
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