In scanning the non-profit landscape this week, we learned about one of the newer projects under the umbrella of an older and highly-respected NGO, the Earth Island Institute. Friend of the Sea emerged from the fishery- and marine-related work of EII, such as their Dolphin-Safe campaign, which now has a ubiquitous presence on most tuna can labels. Friend of the Sea has several efforts underway, including analysis, certification and labeling for sustainable fishing practices.
But what might be coolest is their new SMS text message information system, which functions like a real-time, always current Seafood Watch pocket guide, allowing consumers to learn specific, up-to-date info on the fish they're considering eating.
Whether you are at a restaurant, reading the Menu, or in a supermarket or local fish market, you will be able, in a handful of seconds to receive detailed information about seafood species environmental status. The registered service applies standard mobile phone SMS charges with not extra charge.
You will simply have to write in the species’ common name (e.g.: cod) or scientific name (e.g. Gadus morhua) (write FISH before the species for the US version) and FRIEND OF THE SEA will answer you back immediately with a comprehensive description of most recent stock assessment and fishing method impact and selectivity. If the fishery is sustainable, the system will tell you it’s a Good Choice. If the fishery is unsustainable, the stock is depleted or on the IUCN Redlist of endangered species, you will be notified about the conservation concerns regarding the fishery.
It improves upon tools like the Seafood Watch card by eliminating the need to carry around an extra piece of material (since almost nobody leaves home without their cell phone) and by allowing continuous, automatic updating instead of requiring consumers to keep track of what's changed. Much like the Japanese plan to use RFID tags and cell phones for food traceability, this is another great tool employing everyday technological devices to improve access to the backstory behind our food.
Great idea! However, your article doesn't actually mention what address to send the SMS to in order to get the information.
You're right, Noah! Sorry about that. According to the information I have, the numbers are:
(US: 90430; UK: 07781489880; Rest of the World: 0044.7781489880; other new EU numbers will be activated by the end of March)