We are overfishing our seas and it’s time to relieve the pressure by changing our fish purchasing habits.
Fish is always a healthy food option (unless it’s covered in beer batter), and the number of people eating fish is higher worldwide than ever before. Since 1973, the global consumption of fish has doubled and is expected to increase 1.5 percent per year until 2020.
Change up your fish
The “Big 5” includes cod, haddock, tuna salmon and prawns. Choosing seafood outside this category will prevent the Big 5 from being overfished. Alternatives include pollack and gurnard instead of cod, and mackerel can be a tastier option than tuna. If you do choose to buy tuna, try to buy line caught (pole & line/hand-line), troll caught and dolphin-friendly.
Learn where your fish comes from
Although most of us would prefer fish caught in the wild as they are tastier, organic farmed fish or MSC certified is actually a better option for the environment. They eat feed from a sustainable source and come from farms with lower stocking densities. So whether you’re preparing your own fish or having a dinner night out, ask your fishmonger or waiter where their fish was caught and how. If they don’t know the answer, perhaps you might want to visit somewhere else who knows more about their products.
Avoid eating deepwater fish and sharks
Slow growing long-lived species that breed slowly should be avoided from consumption. They are the most vulnerable to being over fished and it can permanently damage other species in the deep sea such as cold water coral reefs. Deepwater fish include blue ling, redfish, orange roughy, dogfish (huss/rock salmon) and nursehoud (species of shark)
If we want to keep consuming seafood we must be responsible for our own eating habits, otherwise there won’t be much around in the future. So next time you decide to include seafood in your menu, you are now well-informed to make the right choices.
For more information on which fish are endangered and how to be a sustainable seafood consumer, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide online.
Image via Ashatsea