Monterey, CA…The National Park Service (NPS) wants food and beverage concessionaires to make the shift to sustainable seafood, and will use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program to guide purchasing decisions for more than 250 culinary operations in 75 national parks nationwide.
The sustainable food guidelines were released last week at a tasting event on the National Mall in Washington as part of Healthy Parks, Healthy People initiative that requires food service operators to begin offering healthy food options and to incorporate more sustainably-sourced ingredients from land and sea
“There’s a clear shift in the market as more major buyers expect their seafood to come from environmentally responsible sources,” said Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, director of the aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. “The National Park Service commitment is no exception – and we look forward to working more closely with concessionaires to bring ocean-friendly seafood to millions of national park visitors.”
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis White House Senior Policy Advisor on Nutrition Sam Kass released the healthy food standards and sustainability guidelines as chefs from four major concessionaires offered tastes of new menu items.
Concessionaires include ARAMARK Parks and Destinations – a Seafood Watch national partner – as well as Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Guest Services, Inc., and Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts.
According to Kurt Rausch, concessions manager for the National Park Service, the Park Service and its concessionaires are already very familiar with Seafood Watch.
“Seafood Watch was suggested by all of the concessionaires because it’s long been one of the criteria they use for the sustainability of fish,” he said.
“We are proud of our partnership with the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program and the role it plays in helping reduce our impact on the environment,” said Bruce W. Fears, for ARAMARK Parks and Destinations. “As the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s in-house food and beverage partner, we understand the importance of providing guests with healthy options. We are proud to support the National Park Service, which shares our common goal to increase the availability of fresh, local and seasonal choices at national parks.”
The new guidelines specify that, “Where seafood options are offered, provide only those that are ‘Best Choices’ or ‘Good Alternatives’ on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list, certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, or identified by an equivalent program that has been approved by the NPS.”
Seafood Watch recently rated wild-caught seafood that carries the Marine Stewardship Council eco-certification label and a number of independent eco-certification standards for farmed seafood as equivalent to at least its own “Good Alternatives” rating, and recommends that consumers, chefs and businesses treat seafood assessed under these standards as carrying a Seafood Watch “buy” recommendation.
According to Rausch, the decision to incorporate sustainable seafood purchasing for NPS parks will be made on a park-by-park basis, depending on the challenges facing individual units as they consider purchasing from sustainable sources.
Currently, more than 17,500 retail stores and food service locations North America base their purchasing decisions on Seafood Watch science.
“The Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program allows us to easily make the right choices in purchasing seafood items at each of our locations,” said Brian Stapleton, vice president of food and beverage for ARAMARK Parks and Destinations. “Supporting healthy oceans is the right thing to do for both consumers and the environment.”
The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. To learn more, visit www.montereybayaquarium.org.