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Monterey Bay Aquarium Wins Tastemaker Award from Bon Appetit Magazine for Its influential Seafood Watch Program

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Bon Appetit Magazine has named Monterey Bay Aquarium as its "Tastemaker of the Year" for 2008,  in recognition of the aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, for its influential role in transforming seafood buying habits across the United States.

Bon Appetit Magazine will honor the aquarium and other recipients at the 11th annual Bon Appetit Awards ceremony in New York City on September 15.

Bon Appetit Magazine chose the aquarium for its work in communicating the message of sustainable seafood at a time when many commercial fisheries are collapsing or in decline around the world.

The October issue of Bon Appetit Magazine, (www.bonappetit.com) features more details about the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s accomplishments in promoting sustainable seafood.

"We’re deeply honored to receive this award from Bon Appetit Magazine, " said aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. "We know that, through their seafood choices, consumers and businesses can have a tremendous impact on the health of the oceans. That’s why we started Seafood Watch. It’s so gratifying to have our work recognized by a publication with the stature of Bon Appetit."

Since 1999, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (www.montereybayaquarium.org) has distributed more than 24 million consumer pocket guides nationwide to help individuals make seafood choices that protect the long-term health of ocean ecosystems. It has partnered with the two largest food service companies in North America — Compass Group and ARAMARK — which have made commitments to shift their purchases of millions of pounds of seafood annually to sustainable sources.

From its beginnings in 1997 as an informal set of recommendations intended for use in the aquarium’s own food service and animal food room operations, Seafood Watch has grown to encompass a robust research team that produces and updates six regional pocket guides highlighting seafood items available in different parts of the United States, a national pocket guide, three Spanish-language pocket guides and a mobile version available instantly on Internet-enabled phones and PDAs.

Monterey Bay Aquarium is now working in conjuction with two other conservation organizations — the Blue Ocean Institute and Environmental Defense Fund — to release new consumer guides to sustainable sushi. The sushi pocket guides and new online content will be available in mid-October.

The work of the Seafood Watch research team is the basis for other consumer pocket guides produced by institutions including the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. The aquarium’s outreach and major buyers teams have developed partnerships with leading food service companies and restaurants, as well as more than 175 aquariums, zoos and other organizations that follow Seafood Watch guidelines and distribute pocket guides in their regions.

Over 2, 500 people nationally have signed up as Seafood Watch Advocates, promoting sustainable seafood activities in their communities.

"The commitments that businesses and individuals are making are having a real impact in the marketplace, " Packard said. "They’re creating more demand for seafood from sources that protect the health of ocean ecosystems. And that puts us on a path toward improving fishing practices and fish-farming practices around the world."

"The future of seafood, and the fate of ocean wildlife, is an urgent environmental issue, " Packard added said. "Globally, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization reports that the majority of all commercial fisheries are being fished at or beyond their limits. And scientists recently projected that unless we change our fishing patterns, virtually all commercial fisheries will be gone within 40 years. Through our Seafood Watch program, we’re addressing these threats and moving closer to a solution."

The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.

 

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