By the National Audubon Society
Audubon's Living Oceans Program calls on consumers to use their buying power to support abundance in the seas.
More people are eating seafood than ever before, but the origins and even accurate names of seafood are often unavailable to consumers. The National Audubon Society's Living Oceans program launched its "Just Ask" campaign, designed to educate and encourage consumers and food service professionals to ask questions about the seafood they buy and serve to help them make better choices for the health of the oceans.
"Not all fish are equal," says Dr. Carl Safina, Vice President for Marine Conservation for the National Audubon Society. "The key to being a helpful consumer is to know which species are in good shape and which are not. The easiest way to find out is to 'Just Ask'—What species of fish is it? Where does it come from? Until this information becomes readily available, only the informed consumer will have the tools to help heal the seas."
The campaign aims to turn negatives—overfishing, poor fisheries management, and depletion in the seas—into a positive, by providing consumers and sellers the tools they need to begin choosing better managed and more abundant fish.
"Just Ask" is a combination publicity campaign to urge buyers and sellers to ask about their seafood; an educational initiative to build consumer knowledge about the varied status of fish and shellfish through tools such as the Audubon Fish Scale and the Seafood Lover's Almanac and a policy initiative that works with fishermen and marketers to develop mutually beneficial standards for tracking fish from point of catch to point of sale.
"National Audubon Society's 'Just Ask' campaign provides well-researched guidance through the ranking of different species, and primes the public to begin thinking about the sustainability of the seafood they eat," says Mercedes Lee, editor of Seafood Lover's Almanac and Assistant Director of Audubon's Living Oceans Program. The campaign's signature icon, the Fish Scale, ranks species on a color bar (green, yellow, red), depending on several criteria, so consumers can see at a glance how a particular species is doing and be smarter about the seafood they buy.
A central feature of the campaign is the Seafood Lover's Almanac, a 120-page seafood guidebook colorfully illustrated with realistic and whimsical art. "Seafood Lover's Almanac," says Ms. Lee, "is a joyful celebration of fish," and brings to life the wondrous and sometimes eccentric lifestyles of fish and shellfish. The 120-page book contains information on nutrition and health benefits of seafood, and how specific fish and shellfish are caught or farmed. The Almanac features the Audubon Fish Scale color bar on every profile and, importantly, provides information on alternative choices to species in trouble. It even has several recipes.
"We're definitely not telling people they shouldn't eat seafood," says Ms. Lee. "We're trying to encourage seafood lovers to know more about what they're eating so that they're better able to make choices that can help heal the seas."
"Audubon's 'Just Ask' campaign," says Ms. Lee, "puts the power of information and choice into consumers' hands."
Seafood Lover's Almanac
National Audubon Society
Mercedes Lee, Editor
Living Oceans Program, October 2000
Paperback, $ 19.95
120-page, colorfully illustrated
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created March 2001
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