The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) today announced a new program that makes it easy for seafood shoppers to identify responsibly harvested seafood from the Gulf of Maine region. Seafood suppliers earn the ability to use the Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested seal on products based on criteria that support the long-term health of the regions fisheries and fishing communities.
"Our customers care about where their seafood is coming from, and they want assurances that it was harvested responsibly," said Jerry Knecht, CEO of North Atlantic, Inc. "GMRI has created a tool that provides those assurances."
The seal will initially appear on cod, haddock, lobster, and northern shrimp products from the Gulf of Maine region at Hannaford and other retail stores. GMRI is in the process of assessing additional fisheries, with the goal of adding more seafood products to the program later this year. North Atlantic, Inc., Bristol Seafood, Slade Gorton, Cozy Harbor Seafood, and New Meadows Lobster will be among the first companies to use the seal. Consumers may also see the seal displayed at local restaurants and fish markets in Maine and throughout New England in the coming months.
"The seal lets consumers know that an objective science institution has verified responsible harvest and traced the product to the Gulf of Maine," said Jen Levin, GMRI's sustainable seafood program manager. "It unifies the region around a shared identity and supports an economically and ecologically thriving seafood industry."
GMRI's new program is an exciting innovation that makes Gulf of Maine products stand out among competing seafood choices. Fishermen and seafood business leaders anticipate a market reward for contributing to the health of the ecosystem.
"As a harvester, I feel that we are fortunate to have an organization like the Gulf of Maine Research Institute verifying the sustainability of the products that we work so hard to harvest," said Steve Train, a lobsterman out of Long Island, Maine. "People trust the objectivity and the science that goes into GMRI's assessments, and that has a lot of value."
Scientists, environmental organizations, fishermen, processors, retailers, and restaurants contributed to the development of the requirements for use of the seal. The seal signifies:
- The product came from the clean, productive waters of the Gulf of Maine.
- The fishery is managed in a way that contributes to the long-term health of the resource.
- A portion of the proceeds contributes to GMRIs efforts to motivate and reward progress throughout the supply chain toward increased sustainability of Gulf of Maine fisheries.
Food retailers also benefit from providing information to consumers through an easy-to-spot seal.
"The Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested seal confirms for customers that their seafood choice is from the Gulf of Maine region and verifies that the product meets criteria supporting a sustainable harvest," said Beth Newlands Campbell, president of Hannaford. "We are proud to be an early user of the seal at our stores."