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Fighting Overfishing with Sustainable Seafood

Seafood purveyors who offer up only sustainable fish species. In 1994, Henry and Lisa Lovejoy smelled...

Seafood purveyors who offer up only sustainable fish species.

In 1994, Henry and Lisa Lovejoy smelled something fishy when they saw juvenile tuna for sale at a giant seafood market in Japan. The couple was a firsthand witness to one of the symptoms of overfishing: the catch of fish before they’ve had a chance to breed. Scientists say that practice could slash the species in the world’s commercial hauls 90 percent by 2048. Dismayed, the Lovejoys, who owned a live-lobster export company, considered abandoning industrial fishing altogether.

Instead, Henry drew up a plan for EcoFish, a sustainable fish-distribution company that sells only species identified by conservation scientists as hearty enough to replenish their numbers. The New Hampshire–based company patronizes fisheries from Ecuador to Alaska whose methods don’t damage surrounding habitats and that sell fish caught using a hook and line, rather than with trawls that scoop up “bycatch” (coral, dolphins, and other sea life that aren’t meant to be caught but account for a quarter of fishing hauls).

When the Lovejoys launched EcoFish a decade ago, they sold just two species. Today they sell more than a dozen. “Ten years ago we’d go into a store and mention sustainable seafood and get a blank stare; now it’s very well recognized,” Henry says, noting that Henry & Lisa’s Natural Seafood line is carried by 3,500 grocery stores and more than 150 restaurants across the United States. Seafood Choices Alliance, which promotes conservation in the fishing industry, gave EcoFish its “seafood champion” award in 2006, lauding the company’s example of corporate sustainability and traceability.

“Our mission is to sniff out the ones doing it the right way, bring them to market, pay them a premium, and tell their story,” Henry says. “You hope with a successful business model, the guy next door will say, ‘it makes financial sense to me to do it the right way.’”

Photo courtesy of EcoFish

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