In a unique consumer education partnership between a non-profit and a retailer, the National Aquarium and Wegmans Food Markets are working together to promote responsible aquaculture through an in-store pilot program. Seafood SmartTM is the National Aquarium’s seafood education program, created to increase awareness on how aquaculture takes pressure off wild fisheries and encourages farm-raised seafood consumption by informing and empowering consumers to choose responsibly-harvested fish, shellfish, and sea vegetables. Seafood Smart and Wegmans officially launch the education pilot in October for National Seafood Month, beginning with personalized employee training that complements Wegmans’ focus on sustainable seafood.
“We developed Seafood Smart to help increase awareness around the importance of making smart seafood choices, benefiting both human and ocean health,” says Tj Tate, director of sustainable seafood for the National Aquarium. “Our vision is to help restore the health and stability of our oceans for generations to come by creating an ecosystem where both wild and aquaculture products live together in harmony.”
The pilot will make its in-store debut in January 2018 in the seafood department at five Wegmans locations in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
“We pride ourselves in offering sustainably-sourced seafood, and simply put: there aren’t enough fish in the sea to feed future generations. Our goal for this program is to foster a greater consumer understanding of aquaculture that will increase farm-raised seafood consumption and reduce pressure on wild fisheries,” said Steve Philips, Wegmans category merchant for seafood. “Our knowledgeable people are in a unique position to help customers separate fact from myth so they can make informed choices on how to feed their families.”
Applying the knowledge garnered during the Seafood Smart in-store pilot with Wegmans, the National Aquarium will collaborate with retailers, foodservice providers, aquaria, chefs, educators and influencers to further share their curriculum across the nation.
Dedicated to the way humanity cares for our oceans for more than 35 years, the National Aquarium is committed to conservation, working hard to restore the health and stability of our seas. As the human population increases—the United Nations has estimated it will reach 10 billion people by 2050—there is an increased strain on the environment and in turn, on food sources.
"The environmental stewardship and technological innovations that provide safe and sustainable seafood—both wild caught and farmed—are not commonly understood by seafood consumers,” said Paul Doremus, NOAA's acting assistant secretary for conservation and management. “Working with the National Aquarium to provide retailers with key facts about U.S. seafood and the rigorous science-based management behind our nation's fishermen and fish farmers, gives the agency an opportunity to educate consumers at the seafood counter."