What's up with Sustainable Seafood?

Fish

It’s Nude Food Friday! As someone who claims to eat mindfully, I like to know where all of my food comes from, and what it’s all comprised of. Although I mainly eat a vegetarian and/or vegan diet most of the time, I also do eat sustainable seafood once or twice a week. So…what seafood is sustainable? What’s the difference between wild and farmed fish? How do you know if the fish you’re consuming is really what you’re led to believe it is? Let’s take a look…

The following is the difference between wild and farmed sustainable fish and shellfish, and highlights what makes them sustainable:

Taken from davidsusuki.org:

“Seafood from sustainable capture fisheries: (wild)

  • Have a low vulnerability to fishing pressure, and hence a low probability of being overfished, because of their inherent life-history characteristics;
  • Have stock structure and abundance sufficient to maintain or enhance long-term fishery productivity;
  • Are captured using techniques that minimize the catch of unwanted and/or unmarketable species;
  • Are captured in ways that maintain natural functional relationships among species in the ecosystem, conserve the diversity and productivity of the surrounding ecosystem, and do not result in irreversible ecosystem state changes; and
  • Have a management regime that implements and enforces all local, national and international laws and utilizes a precautionary approach to ensure the long-term productivity of the resource and integrity of the ecosystem.”

taken directly from davidsuzuki.org:

“Seafood from sustainable aquaculture: (farmed)

  • Uses less wild caught fish (in the form of fish meal and fish oil) than it produces in the form of edible marine fish protein, and thus provides net protein gains for society;
  • Does not pose a substantial risk of deleterious effects on wild fish stocks through the escape of farmed fish;
  • Does not pose a substantial risk of deleterious effects on wild fish stocks through the amplification, retransmission or introduction of disease or parasites;
  • Employs methods to treat and reduce the discharge of organic waste and other potential contaminants so that the resulting discharge does not adversely affect the surrounding ecosystem; and
  • Implements and enforces all local, national and international laws and customs and utilizes a precautionary approach (which favours conservation of the environment in the face of irreversible environmental risks) for daily operations and industry expansion.”

Here is a list of David Suzuki‘s list of top ten sustainable seafood choices:

1- Swordfish (harpooned)

2- Albacore Tuna

3- Sardines

4- Pacific Cod

5- Sablefish

6- Farmed Oysters

7- Farmed Clams

8- Dungeness Crab

9- Spot Prawns

10- Farmed Salmon (closed containment)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

Choosing a seafood vendor who is willing to talk to you about the different products available is key. If they’re not willing to entertain your questions, that’s weird. Also, most places label seafood with something like “ideal;”, “alright”, or “not great.” Take advantage of those labels. There are many good brands that you can count on for honesty, such as “Friends of the Sea.” You can also download a pocket guide, and carry it with you when you know you’re out to purchase seafood.

QUICK TIPS AND HINTS TO REMEMBER:

1- “Think low.” Species that are lower on the food chain are easier to catch and usually healthier. (They haven’t had as much time to soak up toxins in the water, or consume other toxic fish.)

2- “Think fast.” Try and choose a species that grows relatively quickly. Some fish take up to 30 years to mature– leave those ones alone.

3- Think responsibly. How is this species caught? (Shellfish capture usually involves the scraping of the ocean floor using a trawler…it destroys everything in its wake. Not cool.) If you’re consuming shellfish, healthy farming practices are you’re best bet.)

4- When in doubt, refer to a chart. Don’t be afraid to consult a graph or chart when making a decision about your dinner.

Bottom line: know if the seafood you’re consuming is sustainable or not. It makes a difference to the health of our oceans, and the health of YOU. Be part of something important when it comes to our sea species. 😀 Happy Friday!

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  1. […] prawn stocks are carefully and sustainably […]

  2. […] Some pictures of VegFest Vancouver, which I volunteered at on Saturday. More specifically, I was helping out at the EarthSave Canada booth, a registered non-profit charity since 1990. EarthSave promotes nutrition education and rallies for mindful living in terms of taking responsibility for environmental impact and animal welfare through personal food choices. […]

  3. […] Some pictures of VegFest Vancouver, which I volunteered at on Saturday. More specifically, I was helping out at the EarthSave Canada booth, a registered non-profit charity since 1990. EarthSave promotes nutrition education and rallies for mindful living in terms of taking responsibility for environmental impact and animal welfare through personal food choices. […]

  4. […] What’s up with Sustainable Seafood? (jenniferbrowne.org) […]

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