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"Best Fish Guide” shines light on aquaculture industry

Monday 24 June 2013 – Wellington

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

Best Fish Guide” shines light on aquaculture industry

New Zealanders can now buy farmed New Zealand seafood they know is ecologically sustainable thanks to Forest & Bird’s new Best Fish Guide.

It is the first time New Zealand’s aquaculture farms have been assessed for the Best Fish Guide, which has been helping consumers choose eco-friendly seafood since 2004.

The inclusion of aquaculture species means Pacific oysters, paua, Green-lipped mussels and both freshwater and marine-farmed salmon have been added to the guide’s ranking system.

Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate Katrina Subedar says overall aquaculture species fared well.  “We found almost all of the assessed aquaculture species are ‘good’ or ‘OK’ seafood choices. That’s great news for the industry and great news for New Zealanders who like eating seafood.

“By following the Best Fish Guide, consumers can continue to enjoy all their favourite farmed New Zealand seafood, while knowing they’re supporting fisheries that aren’t damaging the marine environment,” she says.

The nationwide assessment found the rankings of some species varied between regions and so the guide ranks aquaculture species along geographic lines. For example, Pacific oysters farmed in the north of the South Island are ranked in the “green” zone, making them a good seafood choice, ahead of Pacific oysters from the north of the North Island, which are an “OK” choice.

Katrina Subedar says the Best Fish Guide is an easy way New Zealanders can help build a more sustainable seafood industry. “Using the Best Fish Guide in restaurants and supermarkets sends a message to the industry that we want, and support, sustainable seafood.”

Aquaculture is New Zealand’s fastest growing source of seafood production. And Katrina Subedar says the need to sustainably manage it is only going to increase as more pressure is put on our wild fish stocks and wild fisheries.

“We’ve seen with the recent calls to restrict snapper quota, what happens if we don’t manage our fisheries sustainably. Recreational fishers suffer, the industry’s reputation suffers and the whole marine ecosystem is thrown out of balance. That applies to our aquaculture species as well as wild fisheries,” she says.

Celebrity chefs Peter Gordon, Richard Till, Chelsea Winter and Annabelle White have lent their culinary skills to the cause by contributing Best Fish Guide-friendly recipes.

Richard Till, who often refers to the guide, says: "It's everyone's responsibility to protect the life in our seas by only buying fish from fisheries that have been clearly established as sustainable."

The Best Fish Guide assessment is based on the latest government and independent research. It takes an ecosystem-based approach that considers the fish farms’ impact on the wider environment such as waste discharge, effect on marine mammals and seabirds, and the sustainability of imported fish used as feed.

For recipes, the free mobile phone app or to order your free Best Fish Guide fold-up wallet guide visit www.bestfishguide.org.nz.

ENDS

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