The simple way to know for sure if your seafood is sustainable


Today is Sustainable Seafood Day and a Friday, which, when I was growing up, was always the day to have fish and chips. Some kind of throwback to my parents’ Catholic upbringing – that and the fact Mum was too knackered to cook by the end of the week.

Anyway, when I was a kid, eating shark and fish dragged from the ocean along with a few dolphins and a 100-year-old turtle was A-okay. Fortunately, these days, most of us are a little more aware that the ocean is an eco-system and it’s inhabitants need to be more carefully considered (even the ugly ones – I love this guy, above).

As a nation, we Aussies love our seafood. The average ‘Stralian eats more than 18kg of seafood a year and our consumption is only increasing. This isn’t actually a good thing. As this quick video shows, just as most Western Society folk need to cut waaaaay back on meat, the whole world needs to stop eating so much fish.

If you are going to be a pescetarian, then please make sure you’re choosing sustainable seafood. What does that mean? According to the Marine Stewardship Council (MCS) sustainable fishing means healthy fish stocks, minimal ecosystem impacts and effective management.

Which brings me to the simple way to know if your seafood comes from sustainable sources… Look for this logo (nothing like celebrity chefs to help you remember something, eh?)

MSC is considered the most credible ecolabel for wild-capture fishing, and products labelled with this logo can be traced back to fisheries that have been independently certified as sustainable. These fisheries are ensuring that the fish populations and the ecosystems on which they depend remain healthy and productive, now and in the future. They are independently assessed and don’t have to pay a fee or to be certified.
Here are some examples of the kinds of inititives that the MSC endorses as being sustainable fishing practices:
  • The Western Rock Lobster Fishery introduced Sea Lion Exclusion Devices (SLEDs) and eliminated its sea lion by-catch to zero
  • The Spencer Gulf King Prawn Fishery has 300-plus fishing-free days per year to allow the stocks to replenish
  • The Northern Prawn Fishery uses Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) to almost completely eliminate turtle by-catch.

There are thousands of products that meet MCS standards, and you can find them here. Select Australia and go searching for your favourite brand of frozen seafood (including fish fingers) and canned fish, seafood oil supplements, and fresh-fish suppliers too. But the easy way is to flip over the packet and see if it has MCS certification. I have also noticed that fish counters are now displaying it where applicable, which makes life much easier too.

Eating out is trickier. Obviously, in a fancy-pant restaurant you can ask the chef about the provenance of your fish but the teenager at your local chippy might not be able to answer your questions. In this case, you could whip out your phone and open the Sustainable Seafood Guide app by the Australian Marine Conservation Society, another fantastic resource. You can quickly research the fish on offer and make the best choice.

Help spread the word about sustainable fishing and share this post!

photo credit: Alieno95 Pesce Palla via photopin (license)

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