EDF Experts Contribute to Culinary Institute of America’s Menus of Change Report

New report highlights need for U.S. restaurant industry to source more local seafood

June 20, 2019
Matt Smelser, msmelser@edf.org, (202) 572-3272

(Hyde Park, New York – June 20, 2019) The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health began their 7th annual Menus of Change Report and Leadership Summit this week which includes the publication of a detailed report on various issues in the food industry, including a section on “Fish, Seafood and Oceans,” which was written by EDF’s Chief Ocean Scientist, Doug Rader, Ph.D.

The ocean-focused section of the report concludes that while the U.S. has made significant progress on the sustainability of the seafood caught off its shores, Americans aren’t eating enough local seafood, or seafood generally.

“Sustainable seafood is local, available and delicious – but Americans aren’t eating enough of it,” said Rader. “That’s why I’m delighted to contribute to the Menus of Change report. The more we educate chefs, the restaurant industry and consumers about the bounty of sustainable American seafood, the faster we’ll move toward a truly thriving ocean.”

Our wild fisheries are some of the best managed anywhere. Today 45 once-overfished stocks, have been rebuilt to healthy levels, and more are being added to the list each year. However, oftentimes the fish stocks that are the most sustainable are little known to consumers, encouraging unsustainable sourcing of more popular fish.

One great example of this comeback and remaining challenge comes from the West Coast. In 2000, the U.S. Pacific groundfish fishery was on the verge of collapse, and the federal government declared it a disaster. Fishermen, regulators and conservationists, including Environmental Defense Fund, worked to develop new sustainability incentives which took effect in 2011.

Now, less than seven years after those changes started, the fishery has rebounded spectacularly, with several overfished stocks completely rebuilt, many ahead of schedule.  The fishery is now yielding 17 million newly sustainable seafood meals each year. EDF has begun working with industry leaders on a marketing campaign called Rock + Sole to educate more people about the abundant resource right off our coast.

In fact, one of the remaining problems is finding markets for this abundant and sustainable seafood. The Menus of Change Report highlights the role chefs and the restaurant industry can play in overcoming challenges like these. Toward that end, EDF’s Seafood Director, Tim Fitzgerald, is leading a panel of experts to educate food service industry leaders gathered this week at the summit on what they can do to help.

“Chefs and restaurants nationwide have embraced sustainable seafood, but there is more work to be done to support well-managed fisheries and promote responsible aquaculture,” said Fitzgerald. “We can expand our palates while putting more seafood on our plates, and we’re delighted to work with the Culinary Institute of America and the T.H. Chan School to make this opportunity a reality.”

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