The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Lauren Wright, 202-683-4929; lwright(at)fwwatch(dot)org

Food & Water Watch Releases Comprehensive 2010 Smart Seafood Guide

Only Guide to Consider Socio-Economic Impact of Consuming Seafood; Warns Against Turning to Imported Fish Post-Gulf Spill


On Wednesday, the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water
Watch released its 2010 Smart Seafood Guide to direct consumers in
making safer, more sustainable seafood decisions. This year, researchers
analyzed over 100 types of seafood (60 percent more than in 2009) to
create the only guide assessing not only the human health and
environmental impacts of eating certain seafood, but also the
socio-economic impacts on coastal and fishing communities.

In their 2010 guide, Food & Water Watch highlighted what they
refer to as the "Dirty Dozen" -- species that fail to meet two or more of
their criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. This year, the worst
offender was imported coastal-farmed shrimp. According to the guide, the
shrimp mostly come from countries where health, safety, labor and
environmental standards are much weaker than in the U.S. This often
means the shrimp were raised in crowded, dirty farms, and doused with
assorted chemicals, antibiotics and pesticides, some of which are
illegal to use in the U.S.

"The guide comes at a critical time. We've been fielding countless
questions from consumers on seafood safety after the Gulf oil spill,"
said Marianne Cufone, Food & Water Watch's Fish Program Director.
"Unfortunately, because of the spill, many people are considering
imported seafood as a safer alternative to domestic. Often, it's not.

The guide not only educates consumers on seafood selection, but also
offers information on U.S. seafood production and regulation. For

* Less than 2 percent of imported seafood is inspected.

* Over 70 percent of domestic shrimp and about 60 percent of domestic oysters came from the Gulf of Mexico prior to the spill.

* The average consumer eats around 16 pounds of seafood annually, about 4 pounds of which is shrimp.

The guide steers consumers away from certain types of seafood like
fish raised in factory farm conditions that pose threats to both the
marine ecosystem and public health; unregulated imports; depleted fish
(like bluefin tuna); and fish more likely to contain harmful
contaminants like mercury and PCB (like swordfish).

The guide is offered as an online tool for consumers searching for
seafood based on taste or U.S. region of origin. In addition, Food &
Water Watch has developed a smaller, printed version for consumers to
reference before making a purchase at markets or restaurants.

"It's really the most consumer friendly guide out there," Cufone
said. "We're not telling you what to eat. We're providing you with
important information so that you can make safer, more sustainable
seafood choices based on your own personal tastes and priorities."

For more information on the Gulf spill's impact on the availability
of certain seafood items listed on the 2010 Smart Seafood Guide, check
the latest government updates at:

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

(202) 683-2500