Most food guides and dietitians around the world recommend that we consume 2 servings of fish per week, especially fatty fish varieties because of their omega-3 content. But at the same time, we know that the vast majority of commercial marine species are being overexploited. So how can we take action when we are at the fish stand to promote sustainable fishing practices?
Here are 5 tips to help you choose fish that have been gathered in an environmentally friendly way.
First, we need to avoid the more endangered species, such as bluefin tuna, sharks, and large predators. Next, try to vary your choices in order to avoid the exhaustion of the same species in stock. Indeed there are other fish species to consume than the commonly popular salmon and trout. The next time you are at the market, prioritize small fish, which reproduce in large numbers, grow quickly, contain fewer contaminants, and are often less expensive. You can try sardines, anchovies, mackerel, or herring, which, in addition, are rich in precious omega-3.
Some types of fishing methods are more destructive than others. Above all, longline fishing, which consists of scraping the bottom of the body of water, while also destroying everything in the process, and bottom trawl fishing, which drags huge nets and catches a lot of ‘bycatch’, that is to say undesirable marine life, must be avoided. In general, the priority should especially be given to fish caught by a fishing line, from local artisanal fishing. How can you know which fishing method is used? By asking the salesperson at the fish stand. In this way you can also influence them to turn more and more towards fish that are gathered from sustainable fishing methods.
No need to eat a fish that has been around the world! There’s plenty of local fish to choose from. In Canada we can also choose where to buy seafood using an online resource called Seafood Progress, created by SeaChoice. It ranks Canadian grocery stores on 21 “performance indicators” that establish whether or not they’re walking the walk on their eco-responsible commitments.
One would think that selecting products from aquaculture would be a good idea, but again, it all depends on the farming practices. The vast majority of aquaculture in Canada is practiced responsibly, but we must be wary of the fish raised in countries that have poorly regulated farming practices. These fish and seafood are often offered at very low prices.
To make your choice easier, look for the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) and ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) certification logos. The first certifies sustainable fishing, while the second certifies aquaculture products. These logos are applied to fresh, frozen, and canned fish.
In Canada, consumers can choose environmentally friendly seafood that is certified by Ocean Wise, a resource conservation program created by the Vancouver Aquarium.
In conclusion, I hope you are now more aware of the real impact that you can have on the health of the oceans and the fishing industry. Think about it the next time you’re at your local fish market or grocery store.