Whether you are a consumer, supplier, distributor or vendor of seafood, making sustainable choices is important for the environment and the industry. By making sustainable choices, we ensure that seafood can be consumed and enjoyed in the future.
When the FCEC team heard about Santa Monica Seafood, the largest seafood distributor in the Southwest United States, while doing a feature on seafood mislabeling, we were excited to have found a company that was as passionate about seafood sustainability as weare about protecting the public’s health.
Since its founding in 1939 as a family owned business, Santa Monica Seafood (SMS) has always sourced their products responsibly. Today, in their fourth generation of family ownership, the company has many programs and systems in place to encourage vendors and customers to offer sustainable options and increase understanding of environmental responsibility.
Santa Monica Seafood has worked closely with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program to apply color coded ratings to their products. Like Seafood Watch’s guide, Santa Monica Seafood’s products are coded in an easy to understand system: Green for Best Choice, Yellow for Good Alternative and Red for Avoid.
Two additional colors are also present: Grey for products that have not been ranked yet and Blue, or SMS Approved, for products that have been vetted by Santa Monica Seafood or another trusted source.
Santa Monica Seafood works with other organizations, such as the Marine Stewardship Council, FishWise, SeaChoice, New England Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute to assign a Blue rating to products. The Blue rating is used to encourage specific suppliers whose products have been rated Red by Seafood Watch, but who demonstrate a commitment to improvement, to move up in color category.
These sustainability rankings are included on Santa Monica Seafood’s invoices. For each order, a Responsible Sourcing Score is calculated based on the number of pounds of seafood purchased and each product’s rating.
Red List Alternatives
A part of Santa Monica Seafood’s website that is helpful for consumers and vendors alike is its Red List Alternatives page. This page lists suggested substitutes that are similar in taste or texture for seafood that have received a Red rating by Seafood Watch.
For example, the Rockfish, also known as the Pacific Red Snapper, has suggested substitutes of farm raised tilapia or farm raised striped bass.
Seafood Product Guides
Another helpful series of materials are Santa Monica Seafood’s product guides; they not only list the sustainability of a product, but also any other detail you might want to know. From origin, method of catch and season to stocking and storage methods, you will find it all in alphabetical order within these product guides.
Responsible Sourcing Vendor Partner Program
Finally, a program unique to Santa Monica Seafood is its Responsible Sourcing Vendor Partner (RSVP) Program; it funds valuable work that educates and engages the company and its customers on sustainability issues. Part of the funds is invested in identifying and verifying new and existing suppliers’ commitment to sustainable practices, while other funds go toward international organizations. One organization is the National Fisheries Institute Crab Council, which is an alliance of companies that assess the Blue Swimming Crab population and efforts to manage it in the Philippines and Indonesia.
As a company with a long-standing commitment to high quality seafood and responsible sourcing and as a leader and educator in the industry, we think Santa Monica Seafood will go far in ensuring a better future for seafood—and people. We encourage you to read more about the company by visiting their website and subscribing to their blog.
Let us know what you think about Santa Monica Seafood’s sustainable practices by leaving a comment below.
Photos via Santa Monica Seafood on Flickr.