Fishing industry, USDA square off over definition of organic fish
What makes a fish organic? That query has the U.S. Agriculture Department swimming in circles as it fleshes out a new organic rule. Is wild-caught fish the purest, or is closely monitored farm-raised fish the better option? If the latter, does it matter if the fish eats organic plant-based feed or — cue creepy music — other fish? Two USDA task forces have made conflicting recommendations, and observers are scratching their heads. “If you can’t call a wild Alaska salmon true and organic, what can you call organic?” asks Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). But many say wild-caught fish shouldn’t qualify: “What it comes down to is organic is about agriculture, and catching wild animals isn’t agriculture,” says Rebecca Goldburg of Environmental Defense. Whatever the outcome, consumers won’t see the organic-fish label for several years. For now, the debate rages, with George Leonard of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program calling the whole thing “strange.” He read our addled minds.