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CONTACT: Food & Water Watch
Marianne Cufone: 202-683-2511
Rich Bindell, 202-683-2457
Food & Water Watch: IntraFish Misses the Big Picture
Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
WASHINGTON - February 3 - "IntraFish absurdly accuses Food & Water Watch of lying in a press release regarding Monterey Bay Aquarium's (MBAQ's) removal of "Kona Kampachi" from its seafood card (February 1, "NGOs gone wild"). Author Ben DiPietro irresponsibly reported that Food & Water Watch claimed, "The reason the fish was removed from the popular list... was because of environmental concerns about the farming methods and a lack of respect for Native Hawaiian customs." IntraFish fails to see the big picture - and misrepresented the message.
"The January 28 release compliments MBAQ for their decision to remove the controversial ocean farmed fish from their Seafood Watch card and highlights complaints raised in 2009 regarding Kona Blue's operation. Food & Water Watch "congratulates Monterey Bay Aquarium for removing Kona Blue Water Farms' U.S. farmed yellowtail or ‘Kona Kampachi' from the aquarium's Seafood Watch Card."
"According to the IntraFish article, MBAQ states that it removed the fish because it has been off the market for several months. However, MBAQ staff informed Food & Water Watch in October 2009 that data was being collected from Kona Blue, which would be used to review its then-current "yellow" or "good" ranking. Kona Blue's plans to halt production were announced 11 months ago, in an article in the West Hawaii Today.
"It's unfortunate that MBAQ has not taken credit for removing a product from a list of its recommended seafood choices that has been repeatedly criticized for lack of sustainability and cultural sensitivity in its siting and production methods. Consumers who value eating sustainable seafood should certainly applaud the decision.
"Food & Water Watch has been very concerned by various aspects of Kona Blue's operation for some time, and a recent FOIA request confirmed a number of issues including documented proof from the Office of Coastal Conservation Lands that Kona Blue has used an antibiotic that the FDA has not generally approved for marine aquaculture to treat streptococcus. "The State of Hawai'i also documented cases of interference with bottle-nosed dolphins, which are attracted to cages because of the congregated fish. The Hawai'i Department of Aquatic Resources (DAR) noted that the animals have begun to exhibit "unnatural behaviors."
"In light of these environmental problems and the recent transfer of Kona Blue's Hawaii operation to a new owner, MBAQ would have sufficient reason for removing Kona Kampachi from a list of more sustainable seafood alternatives.
"Perhaps, MBAQ is being diplomatic in emphasizing that the fish is off the market. Such a well-known leader on all things seafood could take this opportunity to publicly discuss more of the issues associated with Kona Blue Water Farms to help inform consumers, but regardless of the reason MBAQ states for the removal of Kona Kampachi from the Seafood Watch card, Food & Water Watch supports it. Consumers will no longer be steered to "Kona Kampachi" as a good seafood choice, and this is certainly a decision to be celebrated.