Think Sustainable: Think Seafood

This piece was written by Paula Soto. As a fourth-year environmental science student, I’ve always been passionate about protecting the environment. I hope, by writing these blog posts, I will be able to spread more awareness on current environmental issues and provide new ideas in making positive environmental impacts on people’s everyday lives. After reading about so much that needs to be done in the classroom, it feels great to be able to make a difference by informing others.

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With World Ocean Day just having passed, it’s well time we start thinking about how we can eat more sustainably when it comes to our seafood. With the massive problems the oceans already face, beginning with the massive garbage patches found in the world’s gyres, and ending with ocean acidification, the least we can do is begin to think sustainably in terms of what kind of seafood we are choosing to consume. So the next question is:  what is sustainability when it comes to seafood? The Waitt Institute defines sustainable seafood as the “catching or farming of seafood while maintaining the long-term health of the environment, species, and people’s livelihood”. This means avoiding things such as overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing methods.

Making smarter seafood choices can be easy as long as you’re aware of what your choices are when you buy. Think sustainable, and look for labels on packets indicating products which were taken in a sustainable way. In BC, Ocean Wise is an excellent resource for finding sustainable seafood options. They classify seafood as either “Ocean Wise” or “Not Recommended” based on important criteria. Furthermore, when eating out, look for the Ocean Wise symbol next to restaurants seafood choices to know you’re making a positive impact. If you’re unsure of which establishments may have this, download the Ocean Wise app onto your phone. It gives a great map of all participating restaurants and allows you to make informed decisions. 

 

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Other ways to make sure you’re eating sustainably is by choosing to eat locally. By buying seafood locally, you’re choosing to promote a greener economy and choosing to eat fresher, higher quality product. Furthermore, as with any local food you buy, the environmental impact is reduced due to decreased transportation and preservation costs. Doing this will keep jobs in our communities, and will allow you to know exactly where your food comes from.

Other important aspects when choosing a sustainable seafood option is choosing species which are in season. This provides time for repopulation of a species and prevents fishing during spawning and growing times for these species.  Ocean Wise provides an excellent table depicting when local seafood is in season.

The last step is simply being informed. Going to your favourite restaurants and finding out where their seafood comes from, and in what manner it was fished. Not only will you have a better idea of how seafood impacts your life, but if restaurants get asked this frequently enough, they may come to realize their consumer’s value fresh sustainable seafood which could bring change.

It’s easy to be sustainable! Go online and find out when species are in season, or even download the Ocean Wise app onto your phone which can help you in choosing better options.

To summarize:

1.       Look for sustainable seafood symbols on your packaging

2.       Buy local

3.       Buy in season

4.       Be informed

By following these steps we can move forward in creating a more sustainable future for our oceans. 

 

To learn more about how to consume sustainably go to:

http://seafood.ocean.org/ 

http://waittinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Sustainable-Seafood-Waitt-Institute-Fact-Sheet-30Jan2015.pdf


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