The New Secret Fishing Technology

cropped-yellow-fin-tuna-school3

According to Radio New Zealand:

Sanford is working with the Government in trialling secret new technology that will significantly change the way fish is harvested and marketed

Chief executive Eric Barratt, who is stepping down in December [after over 15 years at the helm], said the new technology potentially improves the quality of the fish caught and he’s hoping the company can move into commercial trials later this year.

“Fish is caught in a different way that substantially improves the quality. Even fishermen who see fish coming on board caught by this method are saying ‘I never knew that fish had that natural colour in it’.”

I am definitely intrigued.

A Fairy Story: McDonald’s, Marine Stewardship Council, Filet O’Fish and the Certification of New Zealand hoki

cropped-yellow-fin-tuna-school3.jpg

I read in Cameron Slater‘s blog whaleoilbeefhooked’ on Monday (29 Jan) that:

McDonald’s has signed on with the Marine Stewardship Council to show that the fish it serves is caught in an environmentally responsible manner. Obviously some focus groups have told them that this matters to people. However they have copped some flak including the certification of NZ Hoki for the New Zealand market.

Some of the council’s decisions have met with wide criticism, including the certification of a fish called the New Zealand hoki that McDonald’s serves in some Filet-O-Fish sandwiches outside the United States. The council has also certified as sustainable fisheries for which scientists say the data is so scarce that any management plan is pure guesswork, including those of the Antarctic krill and the Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish.

This surprises me a bit, New Zealand has a great reputation for fisheries management. Probably some green wanker having a go at us.

This sparked my curiosity because I agree with Cameron’s conclusions. So I started to fossick – starting of course with the enclosed link New York Times article. And I realised that the offending article was indeed penned by a green wanker.

The article by David Jolly reasserted McDonald’s announcement that it had partnered with MSC:

The most tangible effect of the sustainability imprimatur is that, beginning next month, Filet-O-Fish wrappers sold in the burger giant’s 14,000 American restaurants will display the Marine Stewardship Council label. McDonald’s also announced on Thursday that it would roll out a new promotional menu item in February called Fish McBites — think chicken nuggets, only made from pollock — that would also carry the council’s label.

hoki1_large

MSC Certified New Zealand hoki

With regard to hoki, MSC certification and discontinued use by MacDonald’s for the Filet-o-fish Article said:

The world’s biggest fast-food company announced last week that its sourcing of fish for the United States market, which is entirely wild-caught Alaska pollock, had been certified by the council, perhaps the best-known organization promoting sustainable fishing around the world.

David Jolly also wrote in his fairy story that featured on his New York Times blog [Green]:

“McDonald’s did not have to do much to comply with the council’s requirements. Susan Forsell, McDonald’s vice president for sustainability, said that under the company’s own in-house sustainable fisheries program, which began 10 years ago, 100 percent of McDonald’s fish is already purchased from fisheries that have received stewardship council certification.

In Europe, where McDonald’s products rely on both the Alaskan pollock and sustainable European fisheries, the council’s logo already appears on the company’s packaging, Ms. Forsell said.”

Sometimes omission is just as powerful in writing as admission. Europe also uses New Zealand MSC certified hoki in their ‘filet-de-poisson’ [-o-fish] sandwiches.

However just when we begin to think Mr Jolly was about to depart from his usual style of sowing seeds of social and economic unrest in the name of environmentalism (as it interpreted urbanite greenies) and disappoint his avid readership; he comes through in the nick of time with a series of lightening negative strokes and cynical overtures:

“How good the deal is for the fishery, or sustainability in general, is less clear. As I’ve reported in the past, many fisheries scientists are skeptical about the value of the Marine Stewardship Council’s stamp of approval. The organization, founded in 1995 to provide a market-based solution to overfishing, assesses fisheries on the basis of three major criteria: the quality of stock management and the health of the stock and the ecosystem that supports it.

Some of the council’s decisions have met with wide criticism, including the certification of a fish called the New Zealand hoki that McDonald’s serves in some Filet-O-Fish sandwiches outside the United States. The council has also certified as sustainable fisheries for which scientists say the data is so scarce that any management plan is pure guesswork, including those of the Antarctic krill and the Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish.”

And as what is usually the case – bollicks begets bollicks and another story written by another self-ordained ‘environmental watchdog’ is written, unimpeded by any deference to fact or context. This one by New Zealand journalist, Micheal Field.

In this story that featured in the Southland Times, McDonalds US stops using hoki in restaurant meals, Mr Field propagates a opacity with minimal recourse to fact, and little concern about the social-economic fallout that could come of it.

Hoki & McDonalds

Filet-o-fish illustration and caption that featured in the story by Micheal Field. US stops using hoki in restaurant meals. Southland Times. 29 Jan 2013

How misleading is this illustration and caption above that features was in Mr Field’s Article? 

Notwithstanding the plentiful information available on the status of the New Zealand hoki fisheries, its record 3rd  MSC certification and McDonald’s local sourcing policy, as well as information received when researching his stories – Mr Field artfully employs innuendo, point placement, deliberate source identification, and selective quoting to dis-inform his readers and create a storm in a teacup when none exists… either to sell papers, to engage in advocacy, further a personal point of view, or all three.

Did anyone notice that the person who made the statement that “the reason for the use of American Pollack [by MacDonald USA] is due to the promotion of American products in its market and for consistency” was Don Carson Senior Communications Advisor for Seafood New Zealand? Is he an authority McDonald’s US commodity sourcing policy? The previous quote was by McDonald’s own US public relations manager Christine Tyler is who advised that “the company decided to stop using hoki in its Hawaiian operations in order to leverage our scale and simplify our supply chain.” “Rest assured it wasn’t due to sustainability concerns” Mr Field had Ms Tyler saying in a separate quote. The quote from  Carson would have been persuasive if attributed to Tyler. Attributing it to a seafood New Zealand employee does the opposite… doesn’t it? But then I wager Micheal Field knows this.

Mr Field then punctuated these series of quotes with his reference to the US media and Mr Jolly himself:

“Some of the council’s decisions have met with wide criticism, including the certification of … New Zealand hoki. “

Field then wrote:

“MSC first certified hoki in 2001, and then reassessed it in 2011″

He knows very well that it was recertified as sustainable by MSC in 2007, and again in 2012. Field then supplied an opaque reference in an MPI statement with economic overtones in order to instil a “yeah right” response in his reader…

“The Ministry for Primary Industry describes the hoki fisheries as being “in a healthy condition with stock sizes above the level that produces a maximum sustainable yield”

Micheal Field knows very well that the New Zealand hoki fisheries are completely rebuilt, and have abundances in a range that well exceed the level that produces a maximum sustainable yield.

I find this kind of journalism mischievous and professionally unscrupulous. I would respect Field’s journalism if he put it out there as clear opinion… But I can’t have respect for a journalist who employs every journalistic trick in order to pass off as fact the fluff that when denuded of its context is tenuously capable of filling the space between fiction and fact.

The kind of journalist that creates scare stories where none exist, without turning their mind to the consequences and the potential socio-economic fallout, is as close to an economic saboteur as we have in this country. Its recklessness.

Stories like this put jobs in jeopardy, create ripples in export markets, and undermine the uncountable thousands of dollars and the hard work of many good people who actually get out there, and get their hands dirty, to ensure that the New Zealand hoki fisheries are able to meet the rigorous MSC standard.

McDonalds Corparate Responsibiity

So what is really happening in McDonald’s USA and Hawaii with MSC certified Alaskan pollack and New Zealand hoki? Its easy…Corporate responsibility and local commodity sourcing policy (where possible).

From sourcing sustainable and locally caught fish (in this case Alaskan Pollack)

to locally grown potatoes…

and locally and sustainably grown lettuce

According to Burger Business:

“The hottest culinary trend is locally sourced meats and seafood, according to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2011” chefs survey. Never one to shun a trend, McDonald’s is showing that burger chains as well as fine-dining restaurants can source locally.

Consumers are more interested in quality, sourcing and food safety than ever before, and for all the right reasons,” says Jeff Kroll, SVP-National Supply Chain for McDonald’s Canada in a realease issued today. The announcement also includes a quote from Travis Toews, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, saying McDonald’s “support for our industry is exceptional.”

McD_Canada_AngusSite

Angus 3rd Pounder. McDonald’s Canada

The Grand Angus and Mighty Angus burgers sold in Australia and New Zealand are marketed as 100% locally sourced beef. The Australia rollout included a “Hand In Hand with Australia” TV commercial spotlighting the chain’s long relationship with the country’s [farmers].

McD_NewZ_Angus

The Mighty Angus. McDonald’s New Zealand and Australia

This is exactly the same with fish. 

According to McDonald’s New Zealand who use ONLY MSC certified locally sourced New Zealand hoki:

Our fish are caught in some of the world’s cleanest waters off the South Island by Talley’s Fisheries. The hoki fish fillets we use to prepare our super-delicious Filet-O-Fish burgers are renowned for their succulent moist texture, white flesh and great mild taste. That’s why we use them!

McDonald’s USA hasn’t used New Zealand hoki for awhile – and McDonald’s Hawaii has confirmed that it is moving away from Hoki to Alaskan Pollock. It also confirmed that this decision is both unrelated to the MSC certification announcement, nor to any hoki sustainability issues. The reason for the move so simple its silly:

McDonald’s has a new ad [above] regarding its fish suppliers and the decision was made so that the ad did not need disclaimers. Prior to this decision Hawaii was the only McDonald’s US market that didn’t use Alaskan Pollock.

McDonald’s in New Zealand sources 100% of its fish locally, and uses hoki exclusively. And I believe McDonald’s in Europe still uses hoki in their Filet-o-fish sandwiches… But with local sourcing being de rigeur who knows how long that will last.

Related articles

Micheal Field’s Article: US stops using hoki in restaurant meals

cropped-yellow-fin-tuna-school3.jpg

This article by Micheal Field in this morning’s Southland Times features in my subsequent blog post that features McDonalds, MSC, New Zealand hoki and ‘green’ journalism.

It is here for your information, and my reference. In my post I want to clarify the innuendo, and point out why the US is no longer using MSC certified hoki in restaurant meals.

Story by Micheal Field. US stops using hoki in restaurant meals. Southland Times. 29 Jan 2013

Story by Micheal Field. US stops using hoki in restaurant meals. Southland Times. 29 Jan 2013

The beginning of a beautiful friendship: McDonald’s and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Filet-o-fishI just read a Press release from MacDonald’s (as one does)–

In recognition of its ten year commitment to sustainable fishing practices, McDonald’s USA announced today it would become the first national restaurant chain to adopt the Marine Stewardship Council’s blue ecolabel on its fish packaging in restaurants nationwide.

Incidentally the almost 100 million Filet-O-Fishes served in Europe now bear the MSC-certified label. McD’s in New Zealand also only sources MSC certified fish. In our case this fish is MSC certified New Zealand Hoki, which was recently MSC certified for a record third time.

This formal recognition of MSC by a huge multinational corporation like MacDonald’s is not only good for inspiring other corporations to implement sustainable sourcing policy as a matter of routine, it is also very good for MSC.  Notwithstanding the licensing fees. According to the New York Times:

“Mike DeCesare, a spokesman for the council, said that it receives a 0.5 percent licensing fee on wholesale fish sales when the label is used by a partner.

He declined to provide additional details, saying that partner data was confidential. But McDonald’s sold more than 200 million Filet-O-Fish sandwiches last year in the United States alone, so the deal will probably workout to be a substantial windfall for the organization.”

The MSC’s standards are rigorous and difficult to meet. A fishery that meets them is not only certified sustainable, they are well and truely sustainable.

This is something we’ve know in New Zealand since 2001, when hoki was first certified sustainable by MSC:

“The MSC standards are very rigorous and the hoki fisheries have been assessed to meet these in all three areas: the status of hoki stocks, the environmental impacts of hoki fishing, and the management and governance systems that are in place.

This [the MSC certification of hoki] is a great result for the hoki fisheries and is a tangible demonstration of the continuing commitment by industry and government to ensuring our fisheries are managed sustainably and continue to provide a valuable food source,” says Mr Clement [the CEO of Deepwater Group. Who is the Industry company that manages New Zealand's deepwater fisheries].

Jim Cannon the CEO of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and FishSource agrees. With respect to the partnership between MacDonald’s and MSC he wrote:

“McDonald’s has played a leadership role in supporting sustainable fisheries for a decade and has consistently been at the leading edge of activities to improve the management of our oceans. McDonald’s understood the importance of sustainable seafood ahead of others in the business and adopted a visionary approach of supporting the improvement of fisheries rather than just switching to other sources. Sustainable Fisheries Partnership has been proud to work with McDonald’s for many years and has seen huge improvements in the quality of fisheries management as a result of our joint efforts.”

I am a fan of Jim Cannon and SFP. They do the hard work without the misleading advocacy and the ‘issue creation to garner donation‘ that many other eNGOs do. I remember in 2009 when all that anti-hoki business was going down as a result of some eNGOs putting 2 and 2 together and getting 19, asserting that hoki was overfished in spite of MSC certification. Jim Cannon stood by MSC and its certification of hoki. He said in a press statement:

“SFP provides formal annual guidance to McDonald’s on their fish sourcing. SFP has consistently given the New Zealand hoki fishery a green light, meaning it is a responsible source of seafood, despite the declines in catches in recent years. Falling catches may often indicate a fishery in trouble, but as noted above, falling catches can also indicate good responsive management.

The fruits of this pragmatic strategy [where with the strong support of quota owners, fisheries managers reduced fishing mortality by 50% between 2003 and 2007] are now abundantly clear. Hoki has returned to target levels and previously less well-managed fisheries are being transformed and returned to health. The world’s oceans would be far healthier if all whitefish fisheries were managed as well as New Zealand hoki.

New Zealand has good science and good management capacity, and should be on the cutting edge of fisheries management and marine conservation. So it is fair that critics should be pressing for further improvements over those required by global standards such as those of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). But they should not do so by asserting the fishery is unsustainable, or poorly managed, or that the MSC is a fraud. Hoki’s example is inspiring other fisheries to improve their management. Unfair criticism undermines these efforts. Critics should argue the fishery is good, but could be even better.”

Anyway… Good move by MacDonald’s. Lets hope other companies follow suit and make responsible and sustainable sourcing decisions.

greenfishbluefish:

I really like this blog post by makanaka… As the global population grows, issues like food wastage have become increasingly crucial. This post shows just how much we waste. It is astonishing really! 45% of all fruits and veges are wasted.. and I’d believe too. 30% of fish.. I believe this too…

Who are the worst culprits… us. The West. With our picky eating habits – our need for fully processed vegetables, and white blemish free boneless fish. All I can say here is mea culpa! I am definately one of these wasterful eaters… But I am going to change this…. I am!

Originally posted on Resources Research:

Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems, according to data released by FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages – harvesting, processing and distribution – while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain. Graphic: from FAO images

Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems, according to data released by FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages – harvesting, processing and distribution – while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain. Graphic: from FAO images

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) together with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has begun a campaign to encourage simple actions by consumers and food retailers to cut the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted every year.

“In industrialised regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tonnes annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption,” the Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva, said. “This is more than the total net food production of…

View original 218 more words

Bottlenose dolphin approaches divers to free it from an entangled fishing line

cropped-yellow-fin-tuna-school3

I saw this piece of footage and just had to share it…  It is indicative of not only the special relationship between humans and dolphins; but of the self awareness of dolphins. This can be seen here when this particular dolphin is totally aware that the best way to remove the line would be to approach a person.

The footage is of a bottlenose dolphin approaching a group of divers on a night swim off Kona last week (11th Jan). The divers were watching manta rays feeding on plankton when the bottlenose dolphin came seeking help with an entangled  fishing line between its mouth and left pectoral fin (which prevented it from moving its head to the right).

The dolphin, which appeared to have its movement restricted by the line, swims up to one of the dive instructors with the group, who cuts the dolphin free from the line.

According to the New Zealand Herald:

The rescue team were professional divers that have thousands of hours under water at this location. We have helped Manta Rays with entanglement and removing fish hooks many times, so when the dolphin showed its need, the rescuer knew exactly what to do.”

It seemed that way. I noticed the diver had a pair of clippers with him. Glad he did. =)

Tonga’s export fishing industry a thing of the past?

cropped-yellow-fin-tuna-school3

I saw this article in Matangi Tonga Online about Tonga’s fisheries exports. I felt compelled to share it. I love its unequivocal tone, and of course its brevity…

Matangi Tonga

It seems that exporting Tuna from Tonga is not really happening. I imagine that this is an artefact of minimal fish that is destined for any international market being landed in Tonga.

Related articles