This month make the commitment to eat only sustainable seafood – whether at home or while eating out – because November is Ocean Wise Month.
Let’s face it: seafood is downright delicious. But, unfortunately, the rate at which seafood is being taken out of our waters is depleting their populations. Further, irresponsible fishing practices such as trawling are having dire consequences for marine life not even caught for human consumption (this is called bycatch).
On the bright side, more and more people are showing their concern for our ocean’s marine life populations, thanks to organizations such as the Vancouver Aquarium with their Ocean Wise program. This month make the commitment to eat only sustainable seafood—whether at home or while eating out—because November is Ocean Wise Month.
The dark side of the fishing industry
It’s hard to imagine a world without marine life, but according to the Ocean Wise website this reality may not be too far off, as a recent expert study “predicted a world-wide fisheries collapse by 2048.” Decades of overfishing has resulted in “an estimated 90% of all large, predatory fish already gone from our world’s oceans.” To put it simply, we’re running out of sushi.
In addition to overfishing, several other things threaten marine life populations such as unsustainable fishing practices, habitat damage, and some aquaculture. Trawling, for example, is when large sweeps of the ocean floor are made with a giant net, resulting in unimaginable levels of bycatch (some estimate up to 90 percent of a trawl’s catch is bycatch). Among the bycatch is orange roughy, cod, shrimp, ground fish such as flounder and sole, and sometimes even turtles and marine mammals.
What is sustainable seafood?
To make life easier for patrons, Ocean Wise is partnering with suppliers, restaurants, and even universities and colleges to offer sustainable seafood choices. If you see the Ocean Wise symbol you know that particular piece of seafood is:
- abundant and resilient to fishing pressures
- well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research
- harvested in a method that ensures limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species
- harvested in ways that limit damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species
What you can do
Ensuring our oceans remain plentiful and diverse may be as simple as choosing only sustainable seafood and renouncing unsustainable seafood. Just as all products follow a supply and demand model, you can demand sustainable seafood at your grocery stores and favourite restaurants. Sure, you’re just one person; but if everyone voted with their wallets and said “no, thank you” to unsustainable seafood there would no longer be a demand for it, and organizations would have to react accordingly or (pardon the pun) flounder.
Here are a few other tips for ensuring the world we live in always has marine life:
- Look for the Ocean Wise symbol whenever you purchase seafood.
- Check out Ocean Wise’s complete list of Ocean Wise restaurants and other partners.
- If you’re in Toronto, check out Ocean Wise’s Chowder Chowdown 2012 featuring top Ocean Wise chefs vying for the title of Chowder Chowdown Champion.
- Download the Ocean Wise iPhone app, which “provides consumers with over 3,000 Ocean Wise restaurants, markets and supplier venues from coast to coast, and a comprehensive list of ocean-friendly seafood options.”
- Try these tasty recipes from our article “Great Catch!” featuring only sustainable seafood options.
- Avoid “Cheap Shrimp,” which can be contaminated with dangerous drugs, bacteria, and chemicals that are damaging to our health, the environment, and the livelihood of coastal people.