A progressive company: Arctic Storm

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The Arctic Storm Management Company is featured in Business Review USA. The impressive company has sustainably managed the North Pacific pollock and West Coast whiting fisheries, both certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Excerpts below:
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“The (company’s) vessels are members of fishery cooperatives that allocate catch shares among their members who are committed to the conservation and utilization of marine resources. A far cry from the wasteful Olympic-style fishery in which vessels race to outpace their competitors in the harvest of fish, a rational harvesting arrangement that allocates catch shares to fishing participants allows vessels to slow down production and maximize the amount of food produced per pound of fish harvested.”
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“The rationalized fishery allows Arctic Storm and other participants an opportunity to improve the quality of the harvest and practice innovation. It allows them to increase utilization of the resources by increasing the recovery rate and producing more products for consumers. And in slowing harvest rates, participants can take the time to avoid the incidental catch of non-target species, known as bycatch.”
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“Arctic Storm President Doug Christensen says, “There’s a strong focus on continual innovation on what we do with our fish. We’re constantly trying to figure out ways to make more products with the same amount of fish. By doing so, we’ve increased our fishmeal output, added fish oil output and added high recovery lines that increase our frozen human consumption food output.”
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“Arctic Storm also participates in the Sea Share program, which has donated more than 100 million seafood meals to local and national food assistance programs. “This is the seafood industry’s answer to hunger in America. We participate by donating high quality frozen seafood into the Sea Share program which then is further processed and distributed through homeless shelters,” Christensen says.
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P’fish’ers, check out the rest of the article here.

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Passionfish Co-Founder Andrew Spurgin Joins HSWRI President Don Kent on KPBS Radio

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P’fishers, enjoy this radio broadcast on KPBS Radio, San Diego, on the farmed versus wild fish conundrum. P’fish co-founder Andrew Spurgin joins colleague Don Kent, President of the Hubbs Sea World Research Institute which conducts pioneering research on aquaculture.

New York Times Blog: the Seafood Eater’s Conundrum

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P’fish’ers, check out yesterday’s blog in the New York Times about the confusion surrounding seafood consumption. I appreciate the contributors’ opinions and wish they had been given more space to more fully express their thoughts and expertise. I like what Ray Hilborn says about looking for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified seafood…and the problem thus far, that it’s hard to find. Let’s hope the MSC’s work grows and that its label gains recognition. We also look forward to farmed seafood that is certified as “sustainable.”
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Let’s not forget that the planet’s ocean resources are meant to sustain life — the plant and animal life both within the ocean as well as all of the land-dwelling creatures including us hungry humans. We ALL depend upon a vibrant, life-sustaining ocean.
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I made a comment in response to the blog (it’s #129 on a growing list). Click here if you want to check it out…or it’s written out below, having fixed my little typos.
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The NY Times blog is a follow-up to an article posted yesterday by food writer, seafood lover and fellow confused consumer Mark Bittman. And, Mark, we feel your pain.
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Here’s my response to the “conundrum” blog:
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This opinion piece has sparked a lot of dialogue — as well as contradictory viewpoints and conflicting information. I don’t think the article as presented could come close to the complexity of what is “sustainable seafood.” The contributors were given little space to write, and the piece doesn’t cover all-important considerations such as seasonality, provenance, quality, taste, and price.
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The concept of ’sustainability’ needs to take into account economic, social, and ecological factors. If not, the concept will never gain acceptance. That’s why people are getting confused about (or simply disregard, as depicted above by various comments) the many recommendations one is supposed to follow. Meanwhile, the recommendations vary wildly and are coming from all angles: from the government, seafood companies, and environmental groups. None of these entities are 100% on the same page — and even within sectors — there is vast disagreement. So those of us who want to eat seafood are stuck between a rockfish and a hard place.
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Our nonprofit, Passionfish, is run by volunteers who have spent the past decade trying to sort out this “conundrum.” Still, it’s as if the issue has not necessarily gained much clarity for consumers.
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We hear that almost all the fish are gone. But, we hear we can still eat some of them. So, we look at all of the data from the news, our doctors, our grocery stores, our iPhones and cause-related mailing lists. We hear, for the most part (as it’s filtered through these sources) that “aquaculture is BAD”; but, at the same time, we hear about mercury, contaminant, etc. problems in the wild fish.
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We also witness that wild fish are expensive. That farmed seafood is more affordable. We hear that seafood is still the healthiest source of animal protein to eat, that it’s a “lean” source of protein, and that it contains heart-and-brain-healthy Omega 3s (essential fatty acids). These are the thoughts passing through our minds as we shop for seafood, for our meat choices for the week.
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I believe the Marine Stewardship Council, as mentioned by Ray Hilborn, is an organization we should champion. It’s true that they have so far certified only a fraction of the wild seafood products in the marketplace.
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But, the MSC is making great progress. We should support their work and hope their label gains acceptance and recognition.
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We also need a trusted certifier for sustainably raised farmed seafood products. Why do we need these certifiers? Sadly, it’s because people do not trust the government recommendations and regulations — even though, as mentioned in the posts above, the United States has among the toughest regulations. Truth is, people do not trust any single source of recommendations, not the business/seafood industry alone, not environmental groups alone, and not our government. Oh, and we don’t trust the media, either.
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Collaboration between and among government agencies, scientists, seafood companies, fishing and aquaculture practitioners, and environmental groups MUST occur for people to buy into or trust a claim of sustainability. Let’s not forget the critical input by nutritionists and economists — it’s a fact that people make their food choices based on three primary criteria: price, taste, and quality. Sustainability as a word or concept means little to most people.
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A note about the wild vs farmed issue: The rich will be able to eat wild-caught seafood (and farmed seafood called “artisan-raised”). The poor and so-called “middle class” in our country and around the world will not. If the dire predictions are true about the demise of the ocean’s wild species, wild fish will be coveted and savored by the rich as a delicacy, the way caviar is marketed (and, so, wild salmon). The rest of us will eat cake.
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To me, that’s a tragedy. The world’s ocean resources are not just for the rich to enjoy. They are meant to sustain life.

Passionfish Hosts 5th Annual Poisson d’Avril (April Fish Day) with Culinary Institute of America

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Passionfish celebrated its 5th Annual Poisson d’Avril (April Fish Day) with a group called Chefs Sustaining Agriculture managed by our very own Director of Culinary Education Gerard Viverito. The event on Saturday, April 4, at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, involved culinary students who designed, prepared and presented the menu. Gerard is an Associate Professor in Culinary Arts at the institute.
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The event started with an educational forum on seafood sustainability featuring panelists Roger Berkowitz, President/CEO of Legal Seafoods, Inc.; Chef John Besh, Chef/Owner of Besh Restaurant Group; Chef Ed Brown, Executive Chef of Eighty One Restaurants; Claudia Houge, Marketing Director for Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI); Chef Rick Moonen, Executive Chef of rm seafood; and Chris Moore, Chief of the Partnerships and Communications Division at NOAA Fisheries Service.
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Producers who donated products included ASMI, Atwater Estate Vineyards, BIJA Oil, and Wild Hive Farm. And, once again, we were honored to have the participation of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker via the Artisan Confection Company. Check out the fish-shaped chocolates!
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The meal began with Alaskan spot prawns seared and presented with a saffron bisque sauce, wilted arugula and roasted shallot oil croutons and an almond oil drizzle. This was paired with Atwater Estates Vineyards Chardonnay. Next, guests were treated to a crisped Alaskan king salmon with Wild Hive Farm polenta, fava beans, spring peas, pea tendrils, with Meyer lemon-infused organic olive oil and carrot coulis. This was paired with Atwater Estate Vineyards Dry Riesling. The “main event” was an Alaskan halibut with red flannel hash (local potatoes, root vegetables and chorizo). This was paired with Atwater Estates Vineyards Pinot Noir. The finale was a chocolate dome cake with the chocolate fish.
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Read about Passionfish’s Poisson d’Avril, our annual celebration of fish and mischief.
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Passionfish Directors Featured in Hudson, NY, newsmagazine

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Dear P’fish’ers:
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Check out this link in a New York news weekly magazine on sustainable seafood, featuring Passionfish‘ers Gerard Viverito and Carl Rebstock.