When Seafood time comes around, choose Green!
As part of Honda Marine’s strong ongoing partnership with the WWF, we bring you the following important information on choosing what seafood to buy. ‘Our oceans are under pressure. The UN estimates that a quarter of all fisheries are now classified as overfished or depleted, approximately 25% of what is caught is thrown back, often dead and wasted, and, because no fishing gear is completely selective, many endangered and vulnerable species are accidentally caught as bycatch. Meanwhile, the appetite for seafood continues to grow; the average person eats 6 kg more fish every year now than in the 60’s.’
This is hardly surprising as seafood is considered healthy, trendy and a better environmental choice than meat. But the demand for seafood now surpasses the supply; in a world where fishing is central to the livelihood and food security of millions of people, this is a real cause for concern.
So what are the issues we, as environmentally savvy consumers, should be aware of when buying seafood? At the end of the day, isn’t all seafood equal? The short answer is no. But, like everything else we do, seafood consumption has complex environmental consequences that are difficult to condense into an easy answer.
The first thing to know is that there are many different methods used to harvest seafood, each of which has their own associated environmental impacts. The question to ask is, how successful is a particular fishing method at catching what it intends to catch? The UN reports that 27 million tons of bycatch (living things caught in nets unintentionally) die each year. A high level of bycatch in a fishery should set off environmental alarm bells; many of the species caught play important roles in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems and are extremely vulnerable to even low levels of mortality.
So, in a world where such a large percentage of the wild-caught fish stocks are vastly depleted, couldn’t fish farming be the answer? Well, yes and no. Aquaculture provides one out of every four fish eaten in the world today and holds much promise. However, the associated risks of aquaculture, such as the possible spread of diseases from farmed to wild-caught fish, cannot be ignored.
Luckily, choosing sustainably is so much easier with WWF SASSI’s colour-coded seafood pocket guide. The list categorises selected seafood species according to their conservation status: species on the Red list should never be bought (as they are either illegal or considered unsustainable), Orange-listed species have associated ecological reasons for concern, and Green-listed species are the most sustainable choices available, from the best managed populations. The nifty FishMS also brings the list to you through an SMS; text the name of the fish to the number 079-499-8795 and you will soon get a response telling you to tuck in, think twice or avoid completely!
So even if all seafood is not equal, by using SASSI to put your money where your environmental conscience is, things are definitely looking up for our marine resources.
For more information about SASSI, visit the website at www.wwf.org.za/sassi or, email SASSI at firstname.lastname@example.org.