As someone that works at an Aquarium, I often get the comment, “Well, you must not eat seafood.” This is usually followed by a chuckle. My response? “I love to eat seafood. BUT when I do, I make sure the seafood I am consuming is sustainable.”
Our world’s oceans are essential to life on earth.
Covering approximately 70% of the planet, our oceans maintain the earth as we know it by regulating the climate, supplying oxygen to the atmosphere and by maintaining the lives of the millions of organisms that make up the complex aquatic food web. Its essential functions go beyond the deep blue, as the ocean also works to support life on dry land. This includes providing us humans with an important protein source – fish!
However, our oceans are in danger.
One of the biggest threats that our oceans face today is overfishing.
In the past 50 years, global consumption of seafood has nearly doubled. Improvements in technology have allowed us to remove fish at alarmingly fast rates, with much less effort. Today, roughly 90% of the world’s fish stocks are fully fished or overfished.
The amount of seafood we consume is not the only issue. To add to the issue, what we remove and how we remove these species from the water are also an issue. Certain fishing and farming practices can have negative impacts on critical marine or aquatic habitats. An estimated 40% of what is caught in commercial fisheries is unintended catch, or bycatch, and is often tossed back overboard. Bycatch species can range from small organisms to those that are much larger, from sharks, to rays, and even turtles.
Unfortunately, the majority of these animals do not always survive, even if they are returned to the water. It is important to understand how your seafood has been harvested as some fishing gear types can increase the likelihood and amount of bycatch.
But despite these issues, you CAN help to make a difference!
One way to do so is, like myself, opting to eat only sustainable seafood.
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.
I’ll admit, ensuring you are making a healthy and sustainable choice for our oceans when it comes to buying seafood can be difficult. Without the proper information about where your food is coming from, how can you know for sure that you are purchasing sustainable seafood? Luckily, there are resources to help you make those important decisions.
Next time you are at a restaurant or grocery store, look for the Ocean Wise symbol on seafood items.
The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is your assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice, ensuring the health of our oceans for generations to come.
Interested in learning more about sustainable seafood, and tasting what our oceans and lakes have to offer? Check out Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown. Taste delectable original chowders, local craft beer as top Ocean Wise chefs compete head-to-head for the title of 2017 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion, all in support of sustainable seafood.