Posted by admin | 10.12.2012 | Conservation

Eating Sustainable Seafood

Whether its creamy lobster bisque, crunchy calamari, or cedar planked salmon, if you’re a seafood lover there probably isn’t a crustacean or fish you haven’t tried baked, broiled, seared, and served!

Unfortunately the ocean is no longer an all-you-can-eat buffet. Poor fisheries management, population increase, pollution, and large scale man-made disasters (Gulf Stream oil spill) all contribute to the world’s decreasing commercial fish stock. According to Seafood Watch over 75% of the worlds fisheries are currently overfished, and since recovery takes decades, not days, we are faced with a serious problem.

Right now you are most likely thinking “I’m not a commercial fisherman, I can’t control population growth, and I don’t work for British Petroleum.” You would be right, but you can still make a significant impact on the oceans rapidly ­­­­depleting fish stocks by making sustainable seafood choices in your community. 

Sustainable Seafood is defined not only by species population, but also fishing and harvesting methods. The species should be naturally abundant and the population maintained by responsible harvesting habits that do not harm habitats, the environment, or other species. Choose species that are low on the food chain like catfish or mussels because they require fewer resources to survive and usually contain lower levels of mercury then large predators like swordfish and tuna. It is also essential to access the individual growth rates of the fish species you choose to consume. Fish like mahi mahi and tilapia mature very quickly versus species like the orange roughy or Chilean seabass which can take between fifteen to thirty years to reach adulthood.

Encouraging a sustainable seafood supply is more in your control then you might think.  Consumers dictate what the local fishermen supply to the market based on their seafood purchasing habits. If you are buying all the Chilean seabass, then harvests of this un-maintainable species will not only continue, but increase. However, if you choose to only purchase fish that were caught using sustainable methods, then other overexploited species have a chance to recover.

I do know that all this fact checking can be a little overwhelming and, realistically, when you are sitting down to your favorite lunch of fish and chips you’re probably not evaluating the species, size, and source of your meal. Lucky for us the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program makes it effortless by providing a pocket guide to sustainable food.

 Got a Smartphone? Keep sustainability at your fingertips with the  Seafood Watch App!