Last November, the journal Science published the findings of a four-year study that included a startling prediction: Barring a shift in current practice, by 2048 commercial fish catches globally will have shrunk by 90% from 1950 levels. Given the vital role of fish protein in diets (and thus economies) worldwide, that’s a pretty dire prospect. But Henry and Lisa Lovejoy, founders of EcoFish in Dover, New Hampshire, are doing their part to right the boat. Their eight-year-old company supplies sustainable seafood to 1,000 stores nationwide, including Whole Foods, and 150 high-end restaurants. “EcoFish showed everybody this was feasible,” says Michael Sutton, vice president of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and an EcoFish advisory board member. (Wal-Mart, though not a customer, announced last year that it too would use only sustainable fisheries.)
EcoFish doesn’t catch seafood. It identifies suppliers: a Northwest tuna operation that avoids longlines (notorious for “bycatch,” unintended targets such as sharks and sea turtles); a Florida shrimp farm, located inland to avoid destruction of mangrove swamps, that recycles its water to eliminate pollution; an organic catfish farm in North Carolina. EcoFish packaging describes who caught the seafood and their methods. When Henry, a former lobster exporter, created the company, he asked the industry’s critics–conservation groups such as the World Wildlife Fund–to advise him. “It was unheard of,” he says, “but I saw them as the perfect partner for a sustainable seafood company. I wanted their standards to be our standards.” In 2000, only 3 species rose to that level; now EcoFish carries 15 and Lovejoy projects sales will reach $5 million this year.