Seafood & Your Health
What is the definition of "sustainable seafood"?
"Environmentally sustainable" seafood can be defined as fish and shellfish that are raised or harvested in a manner that protects not only the target seafood species but also the ecosystem, so that future generations can have access to the resource.
Why is seafood sustainability important?
Protecting the long-term sustainability of the world's seafood resources is important to all of us—including fishermen, fishing communities, seafood businesses, retailers and consumers who want to continue to enjoy their favorite varieties of seafood over time. In addition, we have a responsibility to ensure that future generations can enjoy the many delicious varieties of seafood and also have continued access to the health benefits that seafood provides.
Why do you sell imported seafood?
The short answer is there simply is not enough domestic seafood supply to feed consumer demand. At H-E-B we are proud to offer a variety of wild-caught and farm-raised fish from the United States. Additionally, we source from around the world to offer the greatest variety of the freshest, highest-quality seafood possible. Our supply of imported seafood is monitored under a continuous quality assurance program.
What is traceability and why is it important to seafood sustainability?
Given the global nature of the seafood industry and the myriad of relevant regulations, it is critical that we know with certainty where our fish comes from and whether it was caught or farmed responsibly. That is why we work with Trace Register™ to implement systems with our suppliers that promote traceability. We are also proud to offer fish from the Gulf Wild™ program, which allows consumers to track their Gulf seafood back to the vessel that caught it. Finally, H-E-B supports the passage of the Port State Measures Act, which will combat the trade of illegal, unregulated, or unreported (IUU) fish.
What laws are in place in the United States to protect the fishery resource?
The 1976 law known as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) created a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around the United States and established eight Regional Fishery Councils to manage fisheries in federal waters. These Councils are tasked with developing science-based fishery management plans that are then approved by the NOAA Fisheries Service and the Secretary of Commerce. This law was most recently updated in 2007 to continue to strengthen our nation's fisheries, including new provisions to end overfishing in all U.S. fisheries by 2011.
What are 'catch shares' and why does H-E-B support them?
Catch shares are a fishery management tool that divide a scientifically-set catch limit among fishermen and holds each of them responsible for their allotted share. Fishermen can fish year-round as long as they stay within their limit. If a fisherman catches more than his allotment, he can obtain more shares from another fisherman. This tool eliminates the inefficient management under other programs; allowing fishermen flexibility while increasing compliance with catch limits, decreasing bycatch and having real conservation impacts on fish populations. Catch shares have been integral in the rebuilding the populations of red snapper and grouper in the Gulf of Mexico as well as species like halibut in Alaska.
What is a 'Fishery Improvement Project'?
A fishery improvement project (FIP) is a multi-stakeholder effort to improve a fishery. These projects utilize the power of the private sector to help fisheries move toward sustainability. The FIPs that H-E-B support involve fishermen, conservation organizations, government agencies and seafood distributors.
(adapted from solutionsforseafood.org)
Are there any species of fish that H-E-B will not sell?
Due to concerns around lack of scientific data, poor fisheries management, over-fishing, bycatch or traceability, H-E-B currently does not sell the following seafood items: orange roughy, skates/rays, bluefin tuna, shark, marlin, wild sturgeon. H-E-B will continue to reevaluate this list and adjust it accordingly.
What is Aquaculture and why is it important?
Aquaculture is the cultivation of marine and freshwater finfish and shellfish. If we are to continue meeting the growing demand for healthy seafood, we will need a strong, sustainable aquaculture industry. In 2010, the United Nations reported that aquaculture accounted for over 50% of the world's seafood supply and this percentage is growing.
I've heard bad things about farm-raised seafood. Can it really be sustainable?
The development of standards for aquaculture practices by third party groups such as the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) are helping to ensure that sustainability considerations are fundamental to fish farming operations. H-E-B's suppliers for key farm-raised products such as shrimp, tilapia, salmon and catfish are third-party certified or in the process of seeking certification. Additionally, our suppliers do not use growth hormones in their farming operations.
Are there health benefits to including seafood in my diet?
Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. They are low in saturated fat and contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for cardiovascular and neurological health. While Americans eat an average of one seafood meal a week, in 2011 the USDA increased their recommended weekly consumption of seafood to 8-12 oz./wk (or 2 to 3 servings weekly). For additional information and recommendations on healthy eating and including seafood in your diet, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Should I be concerned about mercury in seafood?
Should pregnant or nursing women and young children be concerned about mercury in seafood?
The 2010 USDA report on Dietary Guidelines concludes that the health benefits of consuming a variety of seafood outweighs the risks associated with methyl mercury for the great majority of Americans. However the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise that women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, women who are nursing and young children should not eat four types of seafood that are known to be higher in mercury - swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish. They also recommend that such people limit their consumption of albacore tuna to once per week. It's important to note that the FDA/EPA advice stresses healthy seafood consumption:
"A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children's proper growth and development. So, women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits."
For additional information visit the FDA's food safety website.