Blue North Launches Humane Harvest Initiative

Blue North Fisheries, a Seattle based natural resource
company engaged in the cod fisheries, has announced a new humane harvest
initiative, aimed at establishing ethical standards for fish harvesting.
“The Humane Harvest Initiative is based on the recognition
that wild fish are sentient beings that deserve to be harvested humanely,” says
Kenny Down, president and chief executive officer of Blue North, who announced
the new initiative on March 16 at Seafood Expo in Boston.
“This initiative represents a major step forward for Blue
North, furthering our goal to provide the purest, healthiest whole food to our
customers while at the same time being conscientious about how we treat marine
The initiative deepens Blue North’s commitment to
sustainability through several key components informed by strong scientific
evidence, a commitment to more humane practices and coordination with the
environmental community, the company said in a statement.
One way the humane harvest initiative will work to establish
more ethical practices is through development of a device that reduces stress
and pain in wild fish during harvest. Numerous studies have also shown that
stress reduction prior to processing produces higher quality and healthier
products for consumers.
Blue North currently uses a pneumatic stunning machine on
one of its vessels, which uses air pressure to render the fish’s central
nervous system asleep before processing. The company is now developing a next
generation device that relies on electrodes for added efficiency.
“Fish experience the greatest amount of stress during
harvesting and the quality of the fillets is adversely affected,” said
Mahmoudreza Ovissipour, a research associate and food scientist at Washington
State University, who serves as a founding board member for the company’s
Humane Harvest Initiative. “In addition, stress conditions during harvesting
and post-harvest processes can induce reactions that decrease the nutritional
value and taste quality of the fish fillet.”
The new process is to be implemented on all five of Blue
North’s vessels, including its newest vessel, which is scheduled to begin
operations in late 2015.

The company’s primary product, wild caught Alaska cod, was
the first commercial cod fishery to be certified by the Marine Stewardship
Council and designated as a “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s
Seafood Watch program. Blue North is a producer partner of FishWise, a supplier
member of FishChoice, and a business collaborator with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s
Seafood Watch program.