Each year, the average Australian eats 16kg of seafood! It is safe to say that most Australians love seafood! The reason that I personally don’t eat it is because I know so much about fish; how they reproduce, how they coordinate muscles, how and why they behave in certain ways. It is really hard for me to forget all this stuff, so it makes it really hard for me to eat it.
I have nothing against other people eating seafood. It’s a personal choice and that doesn’t mean that other people have to have the same beliefs as me. What I do have a big problem with is unsustainable fishing practises. Trawling is a widely used method that is used to catch a large amount of fish in a small time by towing a large net at the back of a boat. This often results in by catch of turtles, dolphins and juvenile fish, rather than their target species. 20% of seafood thrown out due to by catch each year in the US, which equates to 2 billion pounds.
By catch isn’t the only thing that makes trawling fishing methods unsustainable. Demersal trawling is when a net is towed along the sea floor to catch prawns and fish that live on/near the sea bed. This can damage seagrass and will displace sediment. Seagrasses are an important part of a fishes lifecycle by giving them shelter from predators, and a safe connect from mangroves which they use as a nursery, and reefs. Without this, it takes away their protection, giving them less chance of survival. This will have a domino affect by reducing the fishes survival rate, there will be less fish to catch, resulting in more unsustainable practises used.
Not only is overfishing bad for us because we don’t get as much seafood as we used to, but it also has a massive impact on ecosystems. The two species that are under immense pressure at the moment are Tuna and Salmon. Because they are in such high demand, we are fishing them in higher numbers and at a younger age. The result of catching these fish at such a high rate, is they don’t have enough time to mature. So were not taking fish that are smaller size and therefore haven’t reached their reproductive age yet. This substantially lowers their population size, because now there are less in the ocean that are able to reproduce!
Now, you might be thinking, what can I do about this? Well lucky for you, I’ve come up with some amazing alternatives other than giving up fish.
This is a handy app gives you an insight into the sustainability of 90 different species of fish commonly found in markets and restaurants around Australia. This app was created by the Australian Marine Conservation Society, so you the information comes from a reliable source. It places the species into three categories: green = good, orange = eat less, and red= say no. If you are after a species of fish that is labelled red, the app will give you an alternative that is more sustainable. This app makes choosing the sustainable option so easy!
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2. Look for the MSC seal of approval on any frozen fish
MSC stands for Marine Stewardship Council, and is a non-profit organisation that aims to transform markets to be more sustainable in their practises. This label is only applied to products that can be traced back from MSC fisheries, and is classified based on the United Nations best practise guidelines for sustainable fishing, so it is a tick that can be trusted!
3. Choose local over imported
Do you actually know where your seafood comes from when you buy it from coles or woolies? Approximately 70% of seafood that Australians consumer is imported. So maybe next time, try and buy your fish from markets instead. Majority of the time they’ll be better quality, and wont be mislabelled like a lot of the frozen fish found in the supermarket. Make sure you ask questions about where the fish is caught, and the ways they’ve caught it.
4. Use Greenpeace’s Canned Tuna Guide
Canned Tuna is generally pretty cheap and it lasts for ages, making it widely used around Australia. But unfortunately, like almost every other fish, it isn’t always fished in a sustainable way. To find out what brands are doing the right thing, and what aren’t, check out the Canned Tuna Guide. It is free to download, but unfortunately the 2018 edition has not been released yet. However the year is still early, so the information in the guide is still applicable.
So there you go, some handy tips to make shopping for sustainable seafood a whole lot easier! Let me know in the comments if you found this post helpful, or if you already knew all of this stuff!