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Carbon Fishprinting

Seafood specialist ProFish launched a sustainable seafood program three years ago, but in June took its eco-friendliness a step further. A new program, dubbed Carbon Fishprint, gives operators guidance on the environmental impact of the production, harvesting and/or transportation of the species they serve.

It was created in response to increasing environmental-related questions and purchasing specifications, particularly from large-volume accounts such as Bon Appétit, Sodexo and Hilton Hotels, notes John Rorapaugh, director of sustainability. Ultimately, when Bon Appétit announced its goal of becoming carbon neutral and asked vendors to follow “carbon-minded practices,” ProFish came up with the ideaof assigning a Fishprint score for each species it sells.

“When we started assessing how to rate each species, we discovered that as much as 90 percent of the carbon expended has to do with method of harvest. If a net is dragged between two boats, for instance, that’s double the fuel spent and double the manpower to harvest compared to lobster caught in stationary pots from a single boat. Distance from shore to catch and from dock to distributor also impact its score.”

Atlantic Albacore tuna, for example, has a Fishprint of 17 compared to Pacific tuna’s 39. “Pacific harvesters go out 300 miles while Atlantic tuna is caught 50 miles off the coast,” Rorapaugh says. “The boats are bigger and more fuel is used to harvest Pacific tuna and transport it to the East Coast. If you’re trying to be carbon-minded, the scores help you make an informed decision.”

Other factors that go into the ratings include whether the species is wild or farmed, the amount of energy used for farmed fish and energy and manpower spent on conversion and freezing. Each applicable factor is assigned a score and the points are totaled to arrive at the product’s Carbon Fishprint, which is posted on the ProFish Web site.

“Customers can click on a species and get a breakdown of how we arrived at its rating,” notes Rorapaugh, who says the scores range from eight to 40. “Within that range, we come up with a median, let’s say 22,” he says. “For lack of a better term, that’s the neutral point. So a chef can buy a lot of 15s and balance them out with an occasional 30 or 35 and still feel they’re purchasing responsibly.”

ProFish Ltd.
Washington, DC
Segment: Seafood Specialist
Marketing Territory: Mid-Atlantic States
Accounts: 2,500
Web site: www.profish.com