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Sustainable fishing

Sustainable fishing

Sustainable fishing

International marine scientists predict that if current seafood practices continue, the world’s fisheries could collapse in less than 50 years. But consumers can affect the situation through their shopping choices.

THE INTERNATIONAL PICTURE

International marine scientists predict that if current seafood practices continue, the world’s fisheries could collapse in less than 50 years. However, these scientists also predict that this collapse could be avoided by ‘restoring marine biodiversity through sustainable fisheries management, pollution control, maintenance of essential habitats, and the creation of marine reserves’.

THE AUSTRALIAN PICTURE

In Australia’s Commonwealth-managed fisheries, the number of over-fished commercial species has increased by eight times in the past decade, rising from three to 24 species.

Couple this with the impacts from fisheries catching non-targeted species (bycatch) and seabed trawling, water pollution, marine pests, habitat damage, ocean-based aquaculture and climate change – and a clear picture emerges that Australia’s ocean life is under increasing pressure. And all the while the demand for seafood is growing.

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD?

Seafood that is sourced within the natural limits of the marine environment and with minimal impact to marine habitats can be called ‘sustainable seafood’.

For humans to continue enjoying seafood caught in the oceans, targeted species need to be well-managed and remain in abundant numbers. Fishing boats should be careful to limit the damage fishing does to marine habitats and avoid catching marine species, especially threatened species, that they are not directly targeting.

Seafood farms are often seen as the answer to unsustainable seafood but they also carry associated problems and risks. These include the extent to which feed is sourced from other fish species, the risk posed to the surrounding marine environment from the spread of diseases and pollution, as well as habitat damage and entanglements with other marine life.

Another issue to consider is ‘Food Miles’ – this refers to the amount of energy and resources used to get the seafood from the source to the table.

SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD IN AUSTRALIA

Fish suppliers, markets and other retailers obtain their seafood from regional, national and international sources. A number of species sourced from these locations are considered better consumer choices. However, circumstances in fisheries can change quickly and fish that are considered sustainable in one season may not be sustainable in later seasons.

WHAT CAN WE DO AS CONSUMERS?

Try to ensure you choose seafood that is not sourced in an unsustainable manner (see list below) and where possible, choose species that are sourced closer to home.

At this time the Australian-sourced species regarded as your best choices are:

• King George whiting  

• Australian salmon (also marketed as bay trout)

• leatherjacket

• garfish

• mullet

• calamari

• octopus

• yellowfin bream

• blue swimmer crabs

• western rock lobster

• Coorong mulloway

• Coorong yellow-eye mullet

• Wild-caught yellowtail kingfish

• farmed Sydney rock oysters

• farmed blue mussels.

The species that should be avoided include:

• orange roughy and oreos (deep-sea perch and deep-sea dory)

• blue warehou (trevally)

• broadbill swordfish

• southern scallops

• eastern gemfish (hake)

• redfish (nannygai, red snapper)

• school shark (flake) southern bluefi n tuna

• silver trevally

• sea-cage farmed Atlantic salmon (Tasmanian salmon), barramundi, mulloway (jewfish), ocean trout, pink snapper, yellowtail kingfish, and farmed Pacific oysters.

For more information contact the Australian Marine Conservation Society – see www.amcs.org.au

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