March 28, 2007

Sustainable Seafood

Hello fellow greens,

This is my first post and I'm excited to share some information I have recently read about " Sustainable Seafood". I first came across this subject in a World Wildlife Fund newsletter and then I saw a special article about it in the latest issue of National Geographic. The more I read on, the more I realized what a problem the seafood industry is in. The main problems are overfishing, ridiculous amounts of bycatch (29 million tons of fish, seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals each year) & the lack of government support.

The whole world is feeling the effects of overfishing. One fisherman Alfonso Consiglio of Italy, whose family owns a fleet of purse seiners, is also torn. "The price is cheap because more and more tuna are being caught" he said. " My only weapon is to catch more fish. It is a vicious circle. If I catch my quota of a thousand tuna, I can't live because the price is very cheap. I want to respect the quota, but I can't because I need to live. If boats of all countries respect the rules, tuna will not be finished. If only few countries respect the rules, and others don't respect the rules, the fisherman who respects rules is finished."

There is a huge lack of government support, they need to cut back the worlds 4 million fishing vessels, which is double the amount needed to fish sustainably and lower the budget of 25 billion dollars in government subsides set aside annually for the fishing industries. Not only do we need to change the rules but we need to open peoples minds to the idea that we must treat the oceans inhabitants as we would the beautiful animals on land. It is easy to ignore or just truly underestimate the wonders of the sea, simply because it's a world most of us don't interact with.

If you would like to make a change and push for more sustainable practices you can go to this website:
It is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an independent, non-profit organization set up to find a solution to the problem of overfishing. You can find out where to buy sustainable seafood, fisheries that support the program and even delicious recipes. They were also a winner of GreenAwards, a UK based organization supporting "creativity in sustainability".

Also I wanted to share the list of safe fish:
Halibut - Alaska/Canada
Striped Bass - Atlantic
Squid - Pacific "market"
Albacore - Pacific
Lobster - Australian rock lobster
Shellfish; mussels, clams, oysters - farmed (various sources), cockles (Burry Inlet, U.K.)
Dungeness crab
Caviar - farmed U.S.
Salmon - wild Alaskan

Some fish to avoid are Atlantic swordfish, wild caught Atlantic salmon and sharks. Speaking of sharks, there is an estimated 40 million sharks finned alive for shark-fin soup. So if you would like to support eco-friendly sustainable seafood please look for the blue & white MSC logo on your packages of fish. It's worth mentioning at your local grocery store, let them know, if we don't speak for the fish nobody will.


kristin said...

great topic. here is a related link
for more on the wild salmon:

tracy said...

yes! great post! the monterey bay aquarium has lots of info on their website, as well as a handy pocket guide to good choices based on where you live. )you can download one at

cally said...

I don't really eat fish but I am still very concerned about the state of fishing around the world. The MCS links is great, I hadn't seen that before.

oona said...

I read that N. Geographic article too and it made my heart ache. What are we to do when markets tell everyone to eat fish for their health but there's not enough to feed everyone in the world. Living in AK, I'm lucky cause we can catch our own. But I guess I like red peppers and they don't grow here. aack.

Hayley said...

Great post! I took a marine biology class once where the teacher stressed how damaging the fishing industry is. One fish she said that you should NEVER buy is the Orange Roughy [one I see at every fish counter] because it doesn't mate until it is 20-30 and too many unmatured/ unmated fish are caught which makes it highly susceptible to overfishing.


lisa s said...

i think people don't really think about this enough.

chilean sea bass is really bad too... and i always see it in restuarants...

Kareenamc said...

great coverage, not enough people are aware of our impact on the oceans and our own food supply not to mention the plight of our fishy friends.

Lins said...

Just a quick note to say I'm loving the blog. I stumbled upon it & it's great inspiration. It can be tough sometimes for a sustainable-minded girl stuck in a province where the concept of sustainability seems woefully foreign to most (aka Alberta, Canada).

leesun said...

great blog! keep up the good work! :-)

two carsharing sites (one is uk based, and one is more europe long-haul journey friendly):

liftshare uk



shash said...

so sad about shark being finned alive. i'd never even heard of shark-fin soup. thanks for all the info here ash!

amisha said...

thank you so much for this post, ash. i have been trying to eat more fish recently and i'm glad to have this list of safe fish to look for... and oh do i love the mussels.

pseudobunny said...

i stopped eating the little fishies cause i hope we dont pverfish the seas. really miss my fishies though.
man, good to see lobster on that list ...but from australia? then what about the shipping?
tuno is good though.