Sustainable seafood

Over fishing, destructive fishing gear and practices, poor aquaculture management, pollution and irresponsible coastal development are taking their toll on the marine environment. Three quarters of the worlds oceans are over exploited or fished right up to their limit. Up to ninety percent of big predatory fish like blue fin tune, swordfish and sharks have been lost. We know how good fish and other seafood can be for us, however we need to make choices at the fish market and supermarket that are based on sustainability rather than budget. We can influence the fishing industry by supporting and purchasing better choices. Ask questions, what species, where from, how was it fished, express your concerns, this way we consciously let the suppliers know what the consumer demand is for.

Aquaculture is the farming and harvesting of aquatic animals such as marine algae, mussels, oysters, salmon and barramundi. There are 60 species farmed in Australia , however this is not the solution to the fishing issue due to the impact of seacages where dense schools of fish are kept, fed and fattened for market. Sea cage aquaculture companies increase their profits by not containing their pollution in closed system tanks. This adds to the stresses on the coast and ocean wildlife as large numbers of fish escape, dissolved and solid fish waste from sea cages pollute coastal waterways, and the potential transfer of disease for caged to wild fish.

Sea caged fish are fed a diet that uses wild fish like sardines and mackerel to produce fish meal and it take up to 12kg of this to produce 1 kilo of sea caged tuna, and 4 kg to produce 1 kg of salmon, this places more pressure on ocean fisheries, not less. These cages also pose a potential threat for entanglements of dolphins, seabirds, seals and sharks.

It is much better to choose stick, rack or line aquaculture (open system but no feed added) and closed system tanks and ponds. Low impact fishing includes beach and purse seine net, pots and traps, Lampara net, dive fisheries, handline, and squid jig. Many other type destroy seafloor, habitats and are usustanable.

It is difficult to make a sustainable choice from seafood imports due to lack of information the sustainability. Over 60% of Australian seafood consumed is imported product particularly found in chilled and frozen products, canned items, smoked, dried or salted and fish sauces. Look for the Marine stewardship council blue logo to support sustainable fishing. Supermarket seafood is mostly imported from unsustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Shopping for cheap seafood sends the message that low prices are more important than seafood quality and sustainability.

Questions to ask at the supermarket or fish monger: Is the species long lived or slow growing? These are more vulnerable to overfishing. Is it a deep sea species? These are usually slow growing and long lived. Is it a shark or a ray? These are slow growing, long lived and have few young.

Your best choices are: abalone (aquaculture), blue mussels, blue swimmer crab, bream, calamari, marron, redclaw, yabbie, cuttlefish, flathead, kingfish, king george whiting, mullet, mulloway, octopus, oysters, Wild Australian salmon, squid, trevally, Western rock lobster, Whiting, Yellow tail king fish

Samantha Warner Naturopath

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