Info to Help You Make Sustainable Seafood Choices
One of the most important issues in keeping our Ocean healthy is maintaining fish populations at sustainable levels. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide depend on seafood as the main protein in their diet and insuring sufficient fish requires action on multiple aspects of this issue. Illegal fishing, over-fishing, protected marine areas, plastic and ocean pollution and the viability of our coral reef ecosystems to support fish populations are all recent stories found within our BlueOcean posts.
(photo – Robert Frerck, OdysseyPhoto)
As a consumer of seafood we leave an indelible imprint on the world’s ecosystem consequently today we are bringing together all of the recent data that bear on maintaining sustainable levels of fish and shellfish, vital information that will allow you to make sustainable Seafood Choices. This is a big issue and we will tackle it from a variety of angles.
Sourcing Sustainable Seafood; Where Does it Come From?
Health Hazards in Seafood and Shellfish
We have known for some time that rising ocean temperatures have had an effect on the shellfish industry along the Pacific Coast of Canada and the United States. See our 2013 post: Oceans Suffer Silent Storm as CO2 Acidifies Water.
But now for all of those that love seafood and shellfish and think of it only as a tasty treat we need to question, is it healthy? Several recent studies indicate that we should consider our seafood carefully. Do rising ocean temperatures have a negative health effect on shellfish, our recent BlueOcean.net post says yes. See Rising Ocean Temperatures and Your Next Shellfish Dinner. The National Geographic reported similar findings in their article: Climate Change May Make Shellfish (and Us) Sick. (photo – Richard Nowitz, Nat. Geo.)
Seafood Tainted with Antibiotics
What happens when elusive Chinese seafood companies are actively discouraged from exporting their dangerous seafood to the U.S. — and still find stealthy and elaborate ways to do so? Bloomberg Businessweek examines this very question in their jaw-dropping cover story, “How Antibiotic-Tainted Seafood From China Ends Up on Your Table.”
1 in 5 Fish Sold is Mislabeled
Or consider this, 1 in 5 fish sold is mislabeled, according to Oceana, which recently tested over 25,000 samples of seafood and relied on 200 studies in 55 countries. 58% of samples that were found to be fraudulent could potentially cause health issues. Furthermore, Oceana found that not only is human health at risk because of this large-scale fraud. Endangered species of fish were found mislabeled as more prevalent fish. In Brazil, for example, the critically endangered large tooth sawfish was labeled as shark.
Are there Alternatives to Traditional Seafood?
Can shrimp be replaced by a plant based, biotech variety? In 2013 Bill Gates, after eating some tasty, plant based chicken, invested in a start-up called Beyond Meat that offers a meat substitute created from pea protein, according to Forbes. “The seafood industry is destroying our nation’s oceans, and seafood is second only to beef for its contribution to climate change. Shrimp farming is also linked to child slavery, and seafood is often contaminated with bacteria that make consumers sick. So it’s hard to imagine any product that is worse for society or worse for human health than conventional seafood” said Bruce Friedrich, of New Crop Capital. Analysts say the substitute meat market is expected to grow to over US$5 billion by 2020. (photo – New Wave Foods)
“New Wave Foods, a San Francisco biotech startup with backing from New Crop Capital and SOS Ventures via IndieBio, has engineered a shrimp product (a sustainable food) out of red algae and other plant-based ingredients that looks and tastes like animal shrimp. Why seafood? Because Americans consume nearly five billion pounds of fish and shellfish each year and shrimp, is the most consumed seafood by Americans.”
An Abundance of Resources to Help You Make Sustainable Seafood Choices
There are ways to enjoy your seafood and make sure that it is sustainable and healthy, whether you are shopping for your family, a chef buying for a restaurant or a wholesale supplier. Choose seafood from fisheries that are known to be sustainable capture or seafood from known, sustainable seafood, aquaculture sources, Today aquaculture produces 50% of the world’s consumption of fish, but not all aquaculture is equal, so know which is. (photo – Monterey Bay Aquarium)
Related Issues on Maintaining Sustainable Fish Populations
Sustainable Seafood depends on Sustainable Fishing
The United States imports about US$20 billion worth of seafood annually, making it the world’s largest seafood market and a global leader in insuring seafood sustainability. One of the most important global challenges is harvesting seafood in a responsible process that minimizes by-catch or the accidental catching of marine mammals including whales, dolphins, turtles, etc. By-catch affects marine mammals worldwide and is responsible for the extinction of some species. See our recent article on the world’s most endangered sea mammal Vaquita porpoises in the Gulf of California. (photo – Burt Jones, Maureen Shimlock – Secret Seas Vision)
U.S. Passes New Rules protecting Marine Mammals
You can’t have Sustainable Seafood without confronting Illegal Fishing
Expanding MPAS will insure Fish Stocks Flourish
Ocean Pollution Affects Sustainable Fish Populations
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