If you’re passionate about sustainable food systems, you may want to pay attention to the source of your seafood. Sustainable seafood is a hot topic of discussion, with proponents of it arguing that current fishing practices are contributing to acidification of the ocean and overfishing of many species.
The good news is that the growing demand for sustainable seafood and fishing methods helps to promote environmentally-friendly practices. Let’s walk through some of the key points associated with sustainability and a few ways you can choose more sustainable seafood.
Why Does Seafood Sustainability Matter?
A growing demand for seafood has led to the risk of overfishing. Atlantic halibut, monkfish, shark and bluefish tuna are just some of the species that have been affected by overfishing.
One solution to overfishing is to farm fish. Unfortunately, farming has led to some undesirable side effects. Many fish farms use antibiotics and added growth hormones. Farmed fish are also fed a diet that is less natural when compared to the food they’d usually eat in the wild. Farmed fish sometimes get sick and infected, and can infect the surrounding fish. Waste from the fish also passes into the surrounding environment, which can affect species that live around fish farms.
Fortunately, the fishing industry is shifting their practices to be more environmentally and economically sustainable. You can learn more about the various types of fishing methods on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website.
What Is Aquaculture?
Aquaculture refers to the farming of fish, crustaceans and mollusks under controlled conditions. Aquaculture places a strong focus on limiting habitat damage and minimizing disease.
Many aquaculture farms use low-density pens and tanks to raise their seafood, a practice that helps minimize disease. They also raise seafood without the use of pesticides, added growth hormones or preservatives. These practices help to produce a higher-quality fish than previous farming techniques.
Whole Foods is a great resource for more information about aquaculture practices and the types seafood that are available using this kind of farming.
Your Best Sustainable Seafood Choices
Here are some ways to eat more sustainable and environmentally-friendly seafood.
Do Your Research
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch has an excellent app and seafood guide for many types of seafood and sushi. You can search by type of seafood and the guide will populate a list of environmentally-friendly choices. It also gives you multiple options, in case your fish supplier doesn’t carry a species raised a specific way.
Diversify Your Diet
Try eating different kinds of seafood. By choosing different varieties, you will help reduce the demand for the most popular fish (such as tuna and tilapia), which can help reduce overfishing.
Talk to Your Grocer
Get to know your local grocery or seafood supplier. Talk to them about where they source their fish. Many seafood retailers carry information about the farms their seafood comes from.
Make Something Delicious
With the resources above, you can put together a sustainable and environmentally-friendly seafood meal. Check out some of our favorite recipes: