In honour of Sustainable Seafood Day Australia, Sustainable Table volunteer Jen Bryant has put together a few tips on how we can lend the environment a helping hand by making more sustainable seafood choices...
Today marks the MSC's Sustainable Seafood Day Australia. It's a day designed to highlight the plight of our oceans and inspire us to consider the impact our fish choices have on the environment. So what small and simple actions can each of us take to make a big difference to a rather fishy issue?
Fish is still meat, so make it a treat
If you’ve committed to reducing your meat consumption for environmental or ethical reasons, you really'oughta be... congratulated'. It’s certainly one of the most powerful things you can do to help overcome today’s environmental challenges. But what many of us do is replace meat with fish. Are you cringing right now because this is you? Relax, we're not about naming and shaming. We're about giving you the information you need to make better choices for our environment. So consider this - fish is also meat and today’s highly industrialised approach to fishing and aquaculture come with just as many environmental and ethical issues as factory farming (we’ve written about these issues before, here). The point being? Make meat AND fish a treat. When you do indulge in the occassional fruit de la mer, make it a sustainable species.
Know your fishy facts
Informed consumers are powerful consumers. Knowing your seafood is vital to ensuring you make the best purchasing decisions. Download the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s (AMCS) iphone app or print off our free pocket seafood guide and you’ll have no problem choosing between mullet and mulloway the next time you’re at your local fish monger (by the way wild Mullet is the better choice).
Also check out The Sustainable Seafood Product Finder. It’s a dandy guide to sustainable seafood products available in Australia developed by the Marine Stewardship Program. It lists fresh, frozen, canned fish and fish supplements from ecologically-sustainable sources. And to find out who Victoria’s seafood heroes are, check out Australian Conservation Foundation’s interactive sustainable seafood map.
For those who want to know more about the ethical and environmental impact of their seafood consumption the AMCS and Good Fish Bad Fish are invaluable resources. And be sure to read our Fishy Business section for a neat summary of the issues.
Dine smart today
In honour of the day a few restaurants around Australia are offering the Marine Stewardship Council certified seafood. You can locate your nearest participating restaurant here. You’ll be sending a message to the supply chain that responsible fishing is what consumers want.
Be picky about tuna
Globally, tuna stocks are in serious decline. Six out of seven Pacific tuna species are over-exploited. Commercial tuna fishing is also associated with the sharp decline of other marine animal populations including turtles, sharks and rays that are caught and killed as ‘bycatch’.
As a general rule, it is better to eat fish that is lower in the food chain, that is, smaller fish (such as sardines and Tommy Ruff). These are short lived and fast breeding, as opposed to the larger, longer lived species that should be avoided. If tuna is your must-have favourite, choose Skipjack Tuna, it’s the only healthy species remaining.
To see how your favourite canned tuna brand scores, check out Greenpeace’s canned Tuna ranking. And remember, while the ‘dolphin friendly’ logo indicates the seafood is caught in a manner that minimises the number of dolphins killed, it is no measure of overall sustainability or indication of overfishing.
Don’t be shy – ask questions
Make sure you ask questions of your seafood purveyor or restaurant. You have a right to know what species of fish you’ll be eating, how it was caught or farmed and exactly where it's from. Beyond enabling you to make an informed choice, your interest will encourage others to learn more and adopt responsible purchasing practices.
Spread the love
Diversify your fish eating habits. Any change in consumer demand has an impact upon which fish are targeted. By being adventurous and rediscovering your taste for less fashionable fish varieties, you give over-fished species a free card to recovery. Check out ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight’ website for some recipes that will have you salivating for a new fish flavour.