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.
Making sustainable choices
– Always ask your local fishmonger where the fish is from, and how it has been caught (line caught is the preference). It helps to build a relationship with them, as you will build trust this way and won’t be subject to a ‘quick sell’. Similar to your local butcher, having a local fishmonger will ensure you are only sold quality fish, and hopefully also, sustainably fished seafood, once he has clued onto this being an important factor for you.
– Always buy from a trusted or reputable supplier. In Australia, independent information on the true sustainability of Australian seafood is available on the free app of the Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports called ‘SAFS – Sustainable Fish Stocks’.
– Buy local – Australian and New Zealand fishing practices are of a higher sustainability standard than most overseas catches, generally speaking. For the last six years, Australia’s Commonwealth-managed fisheries have been shown to be fishing sustainably according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) fishery status reports.