Sustainable Seafood - A necessity or a possibility ?

What is “sustainable seafood” and does it matter ? In this Editorial, we will be taking a closer look at the term "sustainable" and discover some of the possibilities to contribute as conscious consumers, for a "sustainable future" for the Oceans.
Photo by Farzad Mohsenvand

When thinking about sustainable seafood, You may get the image of a small fishing boat with oars and a man with a straw hat, sitting with a fishing rod, catching few fish… Though unfortunately this is far from the reality.

Photo by Johannes Plenio

In fact sustainable seafood is a very complex matter. When starting out, the term “Sustainable” has many different meanings.


The term “sustainable” can cover anything from :

  • fishing a specie of fish sustainably (leaving enough fish for reproducing etc. what we essentially imagine sustainable fishing term should cover)

  • buying fish from ones own country, thereby “sustainably sourced fish” or “sustainable seafood”, since it is sourced locally, - yet this could still be very unsustainable species (slow growing, late maturing, overfished stocks etc. )

  • fishing sustainable species of fish (though “by catch” is not measured nor counts in the landings - and thereby this type of fishing could be very unsustainable, but is still allowed to be called “sustainable seafood”)


So, - the term “sustainable” covers a grand ranging scale and is not necessarily “sustainable” for the future of the Oceans.

Photo by Manuel Sardo

Since this term is not transparent - organizations and councils has made some guidelines and certifications, that makes it easier as a consumer to make a choice that is sustainable for the future of the Oceans.


One of the biggest sustainable certifications is the “Marine Stewardship Council” (MSC)


The “Marine Stewardship Council” has created a certification that takes many aspects of “sustainability” into consideration.

“We're on a mission to end overfishing. Ensure future generations can enjoy the wild seafood we love by choosing certified sustainable seafood with the blue fish label.”

The “Marine Stewardship Council” has created a “guide” explaining what You can do as a consumer and why choosing the “MSC label” helps protecting the “oceans, livelihoods and fish for the future”. If You want to know more, follow the link below.

https://www.msc.org/what-you-can-do/eat-sustainable-seafood

However, "Marine Stewardship Council" concerns the fishing industry…


Here is another perspective :

Imagine the Oceans as forests and fish as deer - an abstract thought perhaps, but - comercial fishing in the Oceans is a reality, - yet we would never feed millions of mouths by hunting for deer in a huge forest, - and even be destroying a lot of this forest along with the hunt.

Fishing is the last hunt for wild animals set in a commercial context…So, why not shift this mentality, - like we did a long time ago on land by farming for instance goats and chickens for food, and now rely on farm fish / aquaculture instead of hunting down the wild animals ?

Photo by Nick Karvounis

Many experts explains, that being a conscious consumer and choose aquaculture before sustainable fished fish, will be the better choice, since this will help economically improve the industry - and also this will ensure Your vote as a consumer on a brighter and more sustainable future for the Oceans.


“As a result, you will be encouraging suppliers to steer clear of the unsustainable methods of catching and farming that are damaging the natural world. As a buyer, therefore, you can play a major role in securing the future of our oceans and seafood.” - World Economic Forum

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/5-ways-to-guarantee-sustainable-aquaculture/


There are also different types of aquaculture.

Some types are better than others, and if You want to know more about the different types, You can follow the two links below.


  • Basis Introduction

https://animals.howstuffworks.com/animal-facts/aquaculture1.htm

  • Avid Explaination

http://www.fao.org/docrep/field/003/ac169e/ac169e00.htm

Since there is also different types of aquaculture, some more sustainable than others, the certification “Aquaculture Stewardship Council” (ASC) takes, just like the "Marine Stewardship Council”, many aspects into consideration and secures a more sustainable choice for the consumer. If You want to learn more, follow the link below.

https://www.asc-aqua.org/what-you-can-do/

Photo by Caroline Attwood

Last, but definitely not least !

You also have the possibility to choose very sustainable seafood by selecting the “right” species.

This requires a bit more digging, since this mainly depends on Your location geographically and therefore also on the species in Your local area.

Another aspect to this type of sustainable choice is : You might not use Your vote as powerfully as You can by choosing aquaculture. Yet, by choosing correctly, You can still make a sustainable choice.


And here are some great news, - You can always “go nerdy” and research the different species in Your local area - But! World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has actually created some very detailed “Seafood Guides”.

If You follow this link, You will be able to choose Your region, and thereby discover, which options You have for sourcing the best and most sustainable species.

http://wwf.panda.org/get_involved/live_green/out_shopping/seafood_guides/


To summon up,- choosing “Sustainable Seafood” is a quite complex matter. Yet still it is definitely a necessity for the future of the Oceans, that we as conscious consumers make “sustainable” choices.


By Blue Reporter, Naja Bertolt Jensen

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