Ocean conservation and sustainable seafood are two topics I have been passionate about for many years.   Because there is a limit to the fish in the sea, concerns about farmed fishing, and harmful methods of fishing, it is important for all of us to support healthy oceans through conservation actions, pollution reduction, and fishing restrictions.

TakePart wrote this month about how technology and satellites are helping to target illegal fishing, but the article stated a truth about the part each one of us can take in a broader sustainable push.  Said the article —

A study published last week in Science warned that, with marine fish populations down 38 percent since 1970, our current practices are leading to what the authors called “defaunation”—that is, oceans without animals: “On land, we know of the phenomenon of ‘empty forests,’ ” meaning ecological extinctions of forest species, they wrote. “We are now observing the proliferation of ‘empty reefs,’ ‘empty estuaries,’ and ‘empty bays.’ ”

Seafood consumers can already stop the illegal harvesting, with only minor sacrifice. It means, for instance, passing up the all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet at your favorite restaurant, and gently letting the manager know why … Ask the people behind the seafood counter where the fish they sell is caught and whether they can document that it is legal. The more consumers ask the question, the more retailers will feel the need to get the answers.

Beyond being smart about this issue on your own, I’ve long been a fan and supporter of Seafood Watch’s Guides to Sustainable Seafood.  These guides help you make better seafood choices.  They are free.  They are updated yearly (or sometimes more often than that).  They are available via free apps and on the initiative’s website.  You don’t have to read tons of research to make the best choices because the dedicated staff at Seafood Watch do that for you.

Next time you visit the sushi bar, check out Seafood Watch’s Sushi Guide.  Let the chef know you are making sustainable decisions and why.

When you’re at your local grocer this next week and want to purchase fresh fish, use your guide and ask questions about the fishes’ origins.  If the label at the counter doesn’t tell you and the person behind the counter can’t give you a definitive answer, don’t buy the fish and write in your feedback with a quick one-minute e-mail on the grocer’s online feedback page when you get home.

It’s important to take an active voice.


Photo: instagram/montereybayaquarium