On Thursday, February 27, the LA Food Policy Council’s Sustainable Seafood Working Group – along with The Bay Foundation and the Loyola Marymount University Center for Urban Resilience (CURes) – hosted over 200 people at St. Robert’s Auditorium on the LMU campus to build engagement among consumers and provide tools to encourage informed seafood choices that minimize environmental impacts, promote well-managed fisheries and support responsible aquaculture.
The event began with a seafood tasting which featured a wide variety of sustainable options, including local Morro Bay sablefish, farmed trout raised using a sustainable algae-based feed, and oysters from a local aquafarm, all prepared and served by local chefs who regularly feature sustainable options on their menus. A formal program followed, with presentations by California State Senator Ted Lieu on the importance of combating fish labeling fraud as a way to support sustainable practices; LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin, who empowered guests to be vocal in demanding sustainable seafood by emphasizing the impact individual consumers have had in shifting the market for organics over the last two decades; and aquaponics farmer David Rosenstein on his vision for urban farming in which fish and vegetables are raised side-by-side in a closed-loop system that minimizes waste.
The lively panel discussion that followed was moderated by our very own LAFPC Founder, Paula Daniels, who also released a report in conjunction with the event entitled “Know Your Fish Farm” on the opportunities for sustainable, urban aquaculture farming. Panelists Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill, Sheila Bowman of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, Tim Aupperle of Whole Foods Market, and Mark Helvey of NOAA Fisheries focused on simple, effective action steps for individual consumers who want to make an impact with their choices, encouraging audience members to move away from habitual choices such as salmon and tuna, to eat lower on the fish chain – including sardines and mackerel, and to be adventurous in their fish choices, including trying responsibly-farmed fish. Each also spent some time describing the ways in which they work to make these choices easier for consumers — Mary Sue Milliken admitted that she’s always experimenting in her restaurant to find ways to “make sardines sexy!”
Sustainable Seafood LA, a Working Group of the LA Food Policy Council, includes representatives from Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific, Heal the Bay, Pew Charitable Trusts, The Bay Foundation, and Whole Foods Market. Special thanks goes out to LAFPC Leadership Board Member Leah Ross and Sustainable Seafood Working Group member Lia Protopapadakis of The Bay Foundation for their critical role in coordinating the event.