SIM Social Impact Movement

What Is Sustainable Seafood

Author: Chloe Aldrich

According to the Ocean Wise Seafood Program, seafood is the primary source of food for over 1 billion people. However, 4 out of 10 fish are caught by bycatch and 85% of the world’s assessed fish stocks are overexploited at full capacity. As overfishing continues to plague our world, is it vital that we enact the appropriate measures to combat this problem. Making seafood sustainable is an integral part of this solution. Here is some information about sustainable seafood: 

A History of Sustainable Seafood 

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) notes that the sustainable seafood movement began in the 1990s when the collapse of Canada’s Grand Banks cod fishery raised a greater concern for the protection of wild food, stable employment, and healthy oceans. As a result of the closure, over 35,000 fishermen and plant workers from over 400 coastal communities quickly lost their jobs. Emphasizing the importance of global collaboration in finding a solution to overfishing, this event led the World Wildlife Fund, an organization centered around wildlife preservation, and Unilever, the biggest consumer of cod at the time of the collapse, to implement a project that would result in a scientifically-driven standard to define sustainable fishing. Additionally, it helped establish the MSC, the first and still most recognized standard for sustainable seafood. Such programs have ensured that seafood-loving consumers have been able to enjoy this source of protein in the years since. 

What Is Sustainable Seafood 

According to the Ocean Wise Seafood Program, sustainable seafood is caught and farmed in an environmentally responsible manner, ensuring the long-term health and stability of marine life. When determining whether a species is sustainable, Ocean Wise considers the following factors: 

  1. Is it abundant and resilient to fishing pressure? 
  2. Is it well managed with a plan rooted in current research? 
  3. Does the method used ensure limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species? 
  4. Is it harvested in a manner that limits damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species? 

If the answer to all these questions is yes, then the species is sustainable. By making a conscious choice to eat sustainably, you can help relieve the pressure on overfished species and ensure that we can continue to enjoy seafood in the years to come. 

The Role Of Aquaculture 

As NOAA Fisheries notes, we can’t meet the increasing domestic demand for seafood through only wild-caught fisheries. Furthermore, the United States must expand its aquaculture industry. For the past thirty years, aquaculture has risen to become the fastest-growing form of food production while global wild-capture fisheries have plateaued. However, the United States only produces a small amount of seafood from aquaculture, turning to foreign aquaculture imports to meet the growing protein demand. Growing seafood locally can help us to ensure that this source of protein is safe, secure, and sustainable. Marine aquaculture also provides many additional benefits, such as creating jobs, supporting waterfronts and coastal communities, and providing new trade opportunities.

The Importance Of Physical Health 

Our physical health is vital to our well-being, whether it be emotional, mental, or spiritual. Sometimes we can be so physically sick that it can be a hindrance to our overall quality of life. Feelings of bodily discomfort and illness can restrict our freedom in many ways, from our movement to our capabilities to our ability to enjoy regular, everyday life. Thus, it is so important that we fill our bodies with the proper nourishment. Sustainable seafood is a delicious source of healthy food that can fill up our stomachs and our souls and hopefully, we can continue to enjoy it in the future.