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From our guest author Anna Dawson in the UK
Please consider the impact of buying fish that is not certified as sustainable and so may involve poor fishing or environmental practices.
“There’s plenty more fish in the sea” is the old saying … but are there?
What’s the issue?
Humans have been fishing for generations, and whole towns (even countries) have relied upon the trade for their livelihoods, but as the human population has grown, so have our damaging fishing habits.
Fishing now occurs on such a large scale that it has led to the overfishing of many species of fish in order to meet demand. In the last few decades, the population of key commercial species have declined by more than 90%, and it’s not looking good for the future; farmed fish and shellfish production will have to increase by 133% by 2050 to meet projected seafood demand worldwide!
Overfishing not only endangers the population and survival of that species, but also impacts the ecosystem and the marine life that relies on the fish to survive, and unsustainable “mass” fishing methods like dredging and trawling further damage our oceans.
How can I help?
You may be thinking: very well, but I’m not the one fishing!
This is true, but as the consumer, what you buy is what the shops have to stock, and by choosing to buy sustainably sourced fish, we can increase the demand for fish that has been ethically and sustainably sourced. In turn, this would force unsustainably sourced fishing practice and markets to shrink.
But what actually is sustainably sourced fish?
This simply means:
- Minimising harm to the environment when fishing – handline and dive caught are the best methods, whereas the beam trawler method, for example, damages the seabed and injures other marine species too
- Fishing but leaving enough fish in the oceans for the species to survive and to feed our future generations – for example overfishing has left the Atlantic Cod, a major food fish, vulnerable to extinction
- Fish from fish farms that have high welfare standards
- Responsibly or organically farmed fish with minimised impact on the environment
Our aim should be to buy fish that we know has been sustainably sourced!
How do I buy sustainably sourced fish?
- Check the labels – a tin or piece of fish is ONLY sustainably sourced if it displays the following labels, the more labels on the item the better! If unsure, research the subject online (or simply choose something else!)
- Avoid ‘Red’ fish. Red fish are species that are rated endangered and overfished species, and those that have been fished using methods that harm the habitat. Example include the Atlantic Halibut, Wild Atlantic Salmon, Atlantic Cod from certain regions (e.g. The North Sea) and non-certified farmed Tiger Prawn
- Use The Fish App (visit https://www.mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/app). This is easy to download, it has all the information you need to shop with confidence for sustainably sourced fish! There is also a quick pdf download there too with the essential information
- Educate yourself (you’ve already started by reading this article … Ed) as you can never know enough. The more you know, the better informed your choices will be!
- Educate others! Now that you’ve mastered choosing sustainably sourced fish, tell your family and friends as in order to help our oceans recover, spreading knowledge will collectively help to reduce our impact on the oceans and drive the market further away from fishing that damages species and ecosystems.
It is much easier than it might seem to choose sustainably sourced fish; even just swapping your usual fish for a sustainably sourced fish once a week is a start.
The trick is – read the label!