Why It’s Important to Buy Sustainable Seafood—and Where to Find It
- Sustainability means “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
- This is especially important for our fisheries and oceans, since 90% of wild fish stocks are harvested at full capacity
- Getting seafood from sustainable fish farms is great way to take pressure off wild fisheries
The word “sustainability” gets tossed around a lot these days, but is actually has a very specific definition. The World Commission on Environment and Development defines it as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In short, sustainability refers to any process which can be carried out continuously without depleting resources.
Our marine environments might seem like gifts that keep on giving—but they must be managed effectively to be sustainable. At present, 90% of commercial fish stocks are either over harvested or fully harvested. So while we want to add more fish to our meals, we have to be mindful that our seafood comes from reputable companies with responsible practices.
Wild Fisheries vs. Aquaculture
Just because many of the world’s fisheries are at capacity, it doesn’t mean that buying fish is bad. When you’re at your local fish market, be sure to ask your fishmonger about the locally-caught and sustainable fish selections. But when it comes to frozen or packaged fish—which tend to be caught on a larger scale by commercial fleets—avoid products where the company lacks credible sustainable certifications. Sustainable fisheries limit their operations to areas and species with high stocks and only use selective fishing methods so that bycatch—the accidental capture of other animals—is minimized.
A great alternative is to get your fish from aquaculture (fish farms) but again, you’ll want to make sure that they use sustainable practices. For a fish farm to be certified sustainable, there are many things it has to be accountable for. Monitoring the natural environment, maintaining water quality, and treating organic waste are a few examples, and it must ensure that farmed fish cannot escape.
Want to know where you can buy our sustainably-sourced Tilapia? Our products are available in grocery stores across the nation, and your fishmonger should be able to direct you to the most sustainable option.
Photos: Regal Springs, Shutterstock / NotarYES, Regal Springs