Blue North Fisheries and independent grocer Town & Country Markets are giving consumers what they say is the first opportunity for them to buy Humane Harvest line-caught Pacific cod, starting Nov. 1. Cod caught aboard the Blue North fishing vessel are stunned immediately upon harvest, minimizing stress and producing a healthier and tastier fish, say the companies. The vessel also is the first in the Bering Sea to use “moon pool” technology, harvesting fish from inside the vessel rather than the weather deck, eliminating the crew’s exposure to dangerous sea conditions.
“This seems a natural next step in our commitment to offer sustainable seafood and conscious food choices to our shoppers,” said Susan Allen, shareholder and director of brand development for Washington-based Town & Country Markets. “We are excited to offer this Humane Harvest cod to our customers, and are honored to be the first retailer to do so.”
Once cod is individually caught through the moon pool using hook and line, a stunning table immobilizes the fish, putting the central nervous system to sleep prior to processing so it feels no stress or pain. The fish is then filleted and frozen at sea.
“We believe that all sentient beings, including fish, deserve to be treated as humanely as possible,” said Michael Burns, co-founder and chairman of Blue North. “When we looked at potential partners to introduce this new product to consumers, we immediately thought of Town & Country Markets. My family and I have shopped for more than 30 years at our local Bainbridge Island Town & Country store.”
The Blue North Humane Harvest Initiative was launched in 2015 and has been available on a limited basis to restaurant groups since then. This partnership with Town & Country Markets represents the first time the company has been able to provide a fileted product to retailers for direct-to-consumer sale.
Pacific cod is recognized by nonprofit watchdog organizations as a sustainable seafood product, and Alaska-caught cod is noted as a “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List. In a blind study done at the School of Food Sciences at Washington State University, Blue North says its Humane Harvest fish were proven to have higher levels of nutrients and proteins, were flakier and had improved muscle texture.
“Seafood is one of the most important natural vectors for high nutritional value protein and omega-3s for humans,” Dr. Mahmoudreza Ovissipour wrote in his WSU report published in 2015. “Since fish can feel pain and stress, these factors can easily influence their quality, nutritional value, shelf life and consumption safety.”
“We like to say that doing the right thing tastes better,” said Burns. “In the case of Humane Harvest line-caught Pacific cod, it’s the most responsible, healthy and humane choice to make and for us, nothing tastes better.”