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Town & Country Markets first grocery retailer to sell fish that meets new standard for ethical harvest


Blue North Fisheries and Town & Country Markets will introduce the first opportunity for consumers to buy Humane Harvest line-caught Pacific cod on November 1. Cod caught aboard the innovative Blue North fishing vessel are stunned immediately upon harvest, minimizing stress and producing a healthier and tastier fish. The vessel is also 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 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 for optimal freshness.

“We believe that all sentient beings, including fish, deserve to be treated as humanely as possible,” said Michael Burns, Cofounder 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 announcement 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.

Blue North’s Humane Harvest Pacific cod is also higher quality than other Pacific cod because the fish experience reduced stress. In a blind study done at the School of Food Sciences at Washington State University, 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.”

Because the fish is immediately frozen at sea, it retains its freshness longer, making its superior quality even more noticeable for consumers. Further, Pacific cod is recognized by leading 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.

“We like to say that doing the right thing tastes better,” added 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.”

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