Current fishing practices are unsustainable. What can we do to mitigate this fact and save our oceans for future generations? Many scientists are calling for marine parks that are off limits to large-scale commercial fishing. Also scaling back the commercial fishing feet, tightening quotas that limit how many fish can be pulled from the sea and removing Government subsidies that make seafood artificially cheap.
All of these goals require aggressive enforcement and commitment from governments to prosecute illegal fishing companies. There is also a proven, vicious cycle between environmental degradation and labour abuses.
Technology exists to better track fish as it travels from bait to plate. Grocers and restauranteurs are turning to nonprofit groups like Fishwise for supply-chain audits.
Greenpeace’s ‘Carting Away the oceans’ report card ranks supermarkets based on ethical purchasing decisions, supply-chain transparency and fishery-to-shelf traceability. https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/research/carting-away-the-oceans-10/
In 2018 only four retailers received ‘Green Sustainability Scores’ in the States: Wholefoods, Hy-Vee, Aldi and Target. In the UK the Marine Stewardship Council [MSC] blue label named Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose as the most responsibly sourced fish. The worst being: Iceland, Morrisons and M & S. https://www.msc.org/uk?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyv7cq5ae-AIVmYxoCR36Rw__EAAYASAAEgKznPD_BwE
Seafood companies are considering requiring fishing vessels to have a unique vessel identifier or IMO number [International Maritime Organization] which remains constant regardless of change of ownership or flag.
Another important requirement is for fishing ships to carry observers who document a vessels compliance with quotas, bycatch, shark finning and excessive bycatch. These observers should be responsible and empowered to report on labour conditions and violations.
The most problematic fish to track are shrimp, tuna and salmon because they are overwhelmingly imported and involve especially long and opaque supply-chains. Eating mollusks like clams, mussels and oysters are often ecologically beneficial to grow. Alaskan sockeye salmon is very well managed and high in omega 3’s.
Steer clear of omega 3 daily supplements that are connected to the ‘reduction industry’-a massive industrial sector that boils down 25 million tons of wild fish a year into fish oil for dietary supplements and fish meal that is fed to chicken and pigs. These pills remain popular but a growing body of medical research undercuts the idea that these supplements provide any real health benefits. A better option is omega 3 supplements made from algae.
W.W.F has published a useful country-by-country guide on sustainable seafood. https://wwf.panda.org/act/live_green/out_shopping/seafood_guides/
The Marine Conservation society in Britain has published the Good Fish Guide: https://www.mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/
Atlantic salmon farmed in Norway is considered a ‘best choice’ while Canada’s farmed salmon should be avoided.
Fish caught in Argentina, Chile or Australia is low in risk. If fish comes from South Korea, China or Taiwan it is considered ‘critical risk’ not just for the overfishing and bottom trawling practices but also for the slave labour that is used on the ships.
For more information visit: https://www.theoutlawocean.com/reporting/from-capture-to-culture/
Most of the information for this blog was sourced from Ian Urbina’s article ‘Reining in the Outlaw Ocean’ visit: Reining in the outlaw ocean | The Outlaw Ocean Project