March 3, 2008

updates: checks and fish

Thought I would share some reality-checks of my greening process.

Several months ago I did a post about green checks, which are bank checks printed with soy ink on recycled paper. Today I needed to order more checks and this was my first opportunity to try green checks. At first I was excited, but in the middle of the process I panicked. Why do I have to give all my info to a new company? Does the recycled paper really matter? Is the price really any better? How do I know my bank's checks aren't recycled too? (they aren't; I asked).

After all that second guessing I never completed the transaction. Now that I've had some time to think it over, I am indeed going to place the order with The Check Gallery. I do believe it is worth it.

Another thing I posted about recently was using your phone to find out about good fish choices. One of the fish choices that had me confused that fateful day at the grocery was Chilean Sea Bass. I know it has been on the no-no list for so long. But I couldn't figure out why it was being sold at Whole Foods with a tag saying where it was from and that it had been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. I wondered if that meant Chilean Sea Bass was safe to eat again.

The next time I was at the store I tried to use my phone to text Fish Phone for the information. Alas, the grocery had no cell phone service! I asked the fishmonger what the labels on the Chilean Sea Bass meant and he explained that Whole Foods hasn't sold Chilean sea bass for 7 years. They are now bringing it back because it is being carefully fished from 2 different places, which rotate to ensure the populations are not over fished. The Marine Stewardship Council is a group that oversees this. Yet when I got home I looked up the fish info on a few websites, and they still said not to eat Chilean Sea Bass! Confusing? Yes. This is why we eat chicken all the time.

I think my conclusion is that I'm still not buying the Chilean Sea Bass and that maybe carrying the printed card version of fish info is my best bet.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and for thinking carefully about the fish you buy. I just want to explain a bit more about our certification and ecolabelling program for sustainable seafood, and why you can find our eco-label on South Georgia Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass).

The MSC is a registered non-profit organization. Our mission is to improve the health of the world’s oceans and contribute to creating a sustainable global seafood market. We developed an independent, science-based environmental standard for sustainable fishing and we encourage fisheries around the world to meet this. To get certified a fishery must meet our standard based on three principles:
1) ensuring healthy fish stocks,
2) minimal impact on the marine ecosystem,
3) effective management (which includes ensuring the fishery operates within national and international laws).

Fisheries that prove – through independent third-party verification – that they meet our standard can use the MSC ecolabel on seafood products, empower consumers to make the best environmental choice in seafood.
This is what the South Georgia Patagonian toothfish (Chilean seabass) fishery has done. This unique fishery is not overfished and has excluded illegal vessels from operating in their waters. They have reduced seabird deaths from approximately 5,000 per year to none, by changing their fishing practices and preventing illegal fishing. They passed the MSC standard in 2004, and if you want to support this fishery you can buy Chilean seabass that carries the MSC label. Because of the serious problems with illegal fishing and overfishing in other Chilean seabass fisheries, our advice to consumers is only buy Chilean seabass if it carries the authentic MSC label and comes from the South Georgia MSC certified fishery

The good news is that the MSC-certified South Georgia fishery has set a great example to other Chilean seabass fisheries, and has shown that good management can pay dividends. Other Chilean seabass fisheries have seen the success of the South Georgia fishers, and are realizing that their businesses will suffer if they don’t improve their own fisheries management. This is a source of hope for the future of this species.

I hope that these points and the information available on our website will encourage you to reconsider your views about MSC-labelled Chilean sea bass, and join the growing number of people who look for the MSC label when shopping or dining. MSC-labeled fish is available in 35 countries, in a wide range of stores and restaurants, so there should certainly be some options available near you. You can find out where to buy MSC ecolabelled sustainable seafood products near you at

Alli, MSC Information Officer

Anonymous said...

Mom Go Green,

You don't have to stop eating Chilean Sea Bass or seafood in general! That Marine Stewardship Council blue logo means that the fish is certified as sustainable and can be traced back through the supply chain to the one small Chilean sea bass fishery that has undergone a sustainability assessment.

If you always look for that MSC logo, you can't go wrong! There are hundreds of MSC-labeled products in stores. Even in Walmart. I also like to ask restaurant managers if they can/will carry MSC-certified seafood, so I can be green even on evenings out.

- from another mom gone green :-)

Fishmonger said...

Kudos to you, and your commentators. They are both right when it comes to the MSC label. There are other groups including Montery Bay, and Blue Ocean Institute that put out lists as well. When in doubt there are plenty of other good choices available. I would suggest you try Black Cod also called sablefish, it is well managed and found on the west coast. In general we do a much better job managing our fisheries here in the United States.