Sustainable seafood means wild or farmed fish with little or no impact on the environment. Why is it so important to prevent overfishing? Being aware of the importance of sustainability can protect both your health and the world’s lakes, rivers and oceans.
Benefits of sea wildlife
As you’re visiting an aquarium or sitting by a lake full of koi fish, it may be easy to forget that this beautiful nature comes with a purpose. Fish are not only a great source of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, essential for brain health, but they are also key components of the environment. They are the recyclers and transporters of phosphorus and nitrogen, which are crucial to aquatic plant life. These nutrients are stored in the tissues of fish and plants at the bottom of the food chain. Overfishing reduces the number of these recyclers, impacting the oceanic ecosystem and resulting in larger aquatic mammals such as whales having little or no food.
Health and socially conscious consumers are keen on making purchases that are either local or acquired with minimal impact on the environment. Sustainable seafood focuses on fishing in areas where there is a healthy population, while also reducing the impact on the surrounding marine life.
To support sustainability, you could vary the types of fish you eat to avoid overfished species and allow their population to grow. Buy snapper instead of more exotic salmon, or enjoy squid instead of stingray.
Consumers can support sustainability by purchasing products with eco-labels. Eco-labels are used to identify seafood products that have been caught using methods approved as sustainable. Through certification, fisheries can prove the source of their catch while adapting their methods to have minimal impact on oceans. Fishing methods are scrutinised during the certification process to avoid overfishing and reduce the unnecessary capture of unwanted sea life. Informed consumers look for eco-labels showing that a product comes from an environmentally conscious supplier. When you visit a seafood restaurant, ask if their fish is from a certified source.
In addition to protecting ecosystems, certification supports fisheries. Regulatory bodies work with industry participants to ensure fair pricing while bringing quality products to consumers’ tables. The MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) is one of the most important sustainable seafood certification organisations.
Pesticide and hormone-free
Due to the demand for some carnivorous fish such as salmon, the types of food provided for them in farming environments isn’t always the best. Without sustainable seafood organisations’ intervention and policies, undesirable pesticides and hormones might be used that can impact the environment. Eating fish that is raised in an unhealthy manner has a direct impact on your health, too. Research indicates that pesticides can cause certains types of cancer. However, the good news is that you do not have to give up your enjoyment of seafood – just make sure it’s sustainable.