McDonald’s is now doing in the United States what it has been doing in Europe for years, according to an announcement Thursday, Jan. 24, by the Oakbrook, Ill. based hamburger chain. But now it is the fish sandwiches and “Fish McBites,” presented in new blue boxes bearing the Eco Label Seal from the Marine Stewardship Council that is creating the “good news,” according to media reports this morning.
"Today’s announcement represents the latest step in McDonald’s decade-long collaboration with suppliers to improve sustainable fishing practices throughout its supply chain," notes yesterday's partner release by the Council.
UPI. com Friday morning reported that the certification and new packaging attest to the company’s use of sustainably-caught fish from compliant fisheries, specifically Alaska Pollack, and signals an agreement by McDonald’s to submit to periodic audits and verification.
The chain has successfully been “using the Marine Stewardship Council Eco-label in their fish meals in Europe since 2011," and according to the Council's CEO Rupert Howes, "the chain's decision to use certified sustainable sea food is a win-win-win for everyone involved.” He stated, “This is good news for consumers, good news for the environment and it's good news for business.
The Christian Science Monitor reported today that McDonald’s is the first fast-food restaurant to use the Eco Label, but chains including Wal-Mart and Whole Foods already employ such labeling. “The nonprofit group is paid a royalty fee from companies that use its label. For McDonald's, that means the fee would be based on sales of its fish offerings, such as the Filet-O-Fish and the Fish McBites that will be launched as a limited-time offer next month,” according to the article.
Christina Tyler, a spokeswoman for McDonald's, is quoted as saying that the company “stopped using Eastern Baltic Cod in the early 1990s because of sustainability concerns.” Since 2007, she added, “the company has sourced Alaskan Pollock and New Zealand Hoki exclusively from fisheries with the Marine Stewardship Council's label. Now the chain uses only Alaskan Pollock for its fish items in the U.S.”
FishWatch.gov notes that The Alaska pollock fishery is also great example of science-based, adaptive management at work. Every year, managers adjust the amount of Alaska pollock fishermen can harvest according to pollock population levels and other factors,” it says.
The London-based Marine Stewardship Council, with U.S. headquarters in Seattle, Wash., includes about 300 fisheries in its program, representing about 12 to 14 percent of the world’s fisheries. The Christian Science Monitor reports, “Fisheries can go through a confidential pre-assessment phase to get guidance on whether they're ready for certification.” Kerry Coughlin, the Council’s regional director for the Americas, “said about 30 to 40 percent of fisheries aren't ready when they start the pre-assessment phase, but that more than 90 percent obtain certification after beginning the full, official assessment process.”