Monday, 22 November 2010

Seafood for Thought: Part 1 (How to find sustainable seafood)

Overfishing is the greatest threat to our oceans today. About 130 million tons of seafood is harvested every year- that's double of what it was in the 1970s! 90% of all large, predatory fish (like tuna and cod) are already gone from the world's oceans, and
nearly 75% of the world's fisheries are fished to capacity, or overfished... a situation that’s only getting worse, putting at risk the over 120 million people worldwide who depend on fish for their incomes....

The fishing gear used to catch seafood is also destroying ocean ecosystems and catches non-target, often endangered, species like sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals.

There’s also the issue of illegal fishing that puts further pressure on stocks, and on the food security of coastal communities.

According to Greenpeace, we’re taking 2.5 times more out of the sea than what is sustainable, and we need to ease up on the volume we consume. That said, lots of people like seafood and it’s recommended as a great source of that beneficial omega 3 fatty acid –DHA...

So what’s an environmentally-conscious fish lover to do?

Our seafood choices have the power to make this situation worse, or improve it. And to improve it, we need to start consuming seafood in a sustainable manner.

Sustainable seafood can be defined as species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensures the long-term health and stability of that species, as well as the greater marine ecosystem.

There are a few great programs out there that can help us get sustainable seafood on our plates.

Greenpeace’s Redlist
The Redlist is a list of seafood that are the most damaging and in need of immediate attention – a list of "what not to eat" and "what not to sell".
For example, in Canada, Atlantic Salmon (farmed), Atlantic Cod, Atlantic Haddock, and Atlantic sea scallops are on the Redlist.
Seafood markets and consumer preferences for seafood differ from country to country, so there are different Greenpeace Seafood Red Lists for different countries- make sure to look at your national Greenpeace website- click here.

SeaChoice (Canada)
SeaChoice is a Canadian sustainable seafood program, formed by five Canadian environmental groups including the David Suzuki Foundation. Their goal is to help Canadians take an active role in supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
They provide great seafood (and sushi) guides for your wallet with traffic-light scorecards- "Best Choices", "Some Concerns", and seafood you should "Avoid".
Click here to print out your own copy of the guides!

Seafood Watch (Monterey Bay Aquarium)
The Seafood Watch program helps American consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans. They offer handy pocket guides with a list of recommendation using the traffic-light system- seafood items that are "Best Choices," "Good Alternatives," and that should be "Avoided."
Their pocket guides are available for six regions of the U.S.: West Coast, Southwest, Central U.S., Southeast, Northeast and Hawaii and they also also have national and sushi versions of the pocket guides. All of their guides are updated every six months. Click here to print your own guide.

Ocean Wise (Vancouver Aquarium, Canada)
The Vancouver Aquarium is a non-profit association dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life. Its Ocean Wise program works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers ensuring that they have the most current scientific information regarding seafood, and helping them make ocean-friendly buying decisions.
The Ocean Wise logo can be found in participating restaurants, markets and food-service outlets throughout Canada- currently there are over 300 participating members- all committed to providing ocean friendly alternatives to their customers. Click here to find out what restaurants are Ocean Wise in your area.

Not from Canada or the US?
Seafood Watch includes a list of organizations by country offering their own localized recommendations- click here.

1 comment:

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