How Choosing Sustainable Seafood Can Support Our Oceans
Is your fish ‘n’ chips, seafood cocktails, clam chowder or cedar-planked salmon sustainable seafood? However you enjoy eating your seafood, how do you know whether your choice is sustainable?
Over the past 20 years, the demand for seafood has significantly increased as people look to make healthier choices in their diets. This demand is placing huge pressure on our oceans and fish stocks.
According to Ocean Wise.org, it is estimated that 90% of the world’s fish stocks are overfished using harmful catch methods and that 4 out of every 10 fish caught are bycatch – which means they were not the target species and end up as waste. With the additional issues of climate change and pollution to contend with; our oceans are struggling.
As people who love spending time on the water, we want to keep our aquatic environments and sea-life healthy both for us and for future generations. The good news is that nature is resilient, and if we start making the right choices now, our ocean ecosystems have a good chance of bouncing back.
When you choose sustainable seafood, you are helping increase demand for ocean-friendly practices in the seafood industry which will ultimately lead to healthier marine habitats.
What is Sustainable Seafood?
Sustainable seafood is species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensures the stability of both that species and the general marine ecosystems in the future. Sustainable seafood production:
- Stops overfishing of species
- Reduces habitat destruction
- Reduces negative impacts on other ocean wildlife and habitats
- Takes into account the economic and social impacts on the communities that rely on the seafood industry
Whether your seafood is sustainable can depend on:
Maintenance of a healthy population – some species have been overfished almost to extinction, but when good stock management and regulations are in place, species have a chance to thrive sustainably.
Catch method – some fishing and harvesting processes, such as seafloor dredging, can cause significant damage to marine habitats and other fish species. Sustainable harvesting, such as line and pole, targets single species in smaller numbers and is therefore more sustainable.
Carbon footprint – in order to get seafood to the consumer at its freshest, it’s often shipped by air, rail or road across long distances. Locally sourced seafood, previously frozen and tinned seafood all have a lower environmental impact.
Can Farmed Fish Be Sustainable?
Aquaculture, the farming of fish and other seafood, can be sustainable when good practices are used. On-land fish farming limits chances for disease, pollution and damage to ocean environments; farmed shellfish such as oysters, clams, mussels and scallops are even considered to be beneficial to the surrounding habitat.
How Do I Know if My Choice is Sustainable?
When faced with the multitude of seafood choices at a store or on a restaurant menu, how do you know which choices are sustainable?
One of the easiest things consumers can do is to look for seafood which has been approved by a regarded organization like those listed below. Grocery stores and restaurants across the world have signed up to support these programs and display signs or labels indicating the most sustainable seafood choices.
Each organization has its own definition and benchmarks for sustainably-sourced seafood, but they all strive to help you make better choices.
Ocean Wise – The best known seafood ranking program in Canada which bases its recommendations on criteria focused on fish stock numbers, harvesting methods and aquatic damage. 750 partner organizations including grocery stores and restaurants across Canada label Ocean Wise choices to make sustainable choices easier. Visit the Ocean wise website for consumer guides and a sustainable seafood list.
Seafood Watch – Created by the Monterey Bay Museum in the USA, this program also considers social responsibility and economic sustainability in its recommendations. This takes into consideration the human rights and circumstances of those involved in the fishing industry. Seafood watch accreditation is used more commonly in the States but its consumer guides have useful tips for buyers anywhere.
Marine Conservation Society – One aim of this global organization is to encourage manufacturers to include detailed information regarding seafood origins on packaging. The MCS’s online Good Fish guide is searchable by species enabling you to do a quick check before buying.
Seachoice – This Canadian organization works to influence the seafood supply chain to create more traceability. It recommends customers look out for products certified by either the Marine Stewardship Council or Aquaculture Stewardship Council.
A Quick Guide to Sustainable Seafood Shopping:
So now you know what sustainable means, and why it is important; follow these simple steps to ensure you are making the best choices every time you shop.
- Ask your local retailer what sustainable fish they have and how they support sustainability. By asking for sustainable seafood, you encourage suppliers to make improvements to the industry
- Look for recommendation symbols – from the organizations listed above or a retailers’ own program.
- Discover local suppliers – buying local in-season, small-catch seafood, reduces pressure on fishing stocks, has a small carbon footprint and supports local families
- Educate yourself about what sustainability is and what the best seafood choices are in your area
- Try something different – choose a less common, local alternative to your usual or choose shellfish which are low on the food chain and reproduce quickly.
Enjoy Your Sustainable Seafood Supper with Van Isle Marina
Looking for a new yacht on which to host your sustainable seafood feast with friends? Contact our sales team who can help you find the vessel with the perfect galley kitchen for your needs.
If you need some recipe inspiration check out these delicious crab cake recipes, which you can make with locally sourced, sustainable BC Dungeness Crab. Else, how about some mouthwatering chowder recipes, halibut recipes, trout recipes or these spot prawn recipes.
If you prefer to catch and harvest your own fish and seafood; make sure you stick to local catch limits. The knowledgeable staff at our Sidney, BC, location will be glad to help advise you on the best places to go for a successful fishing trip.