Favorable Choices in Fish

Articles
January 04, 2011

Favorable Choices in Fish

Making conscious decisions in the fish department of your local supermarket or in a restaurant is getting easier and easier, as an increasing amount of supermarkets and restaurants alike are choosing to only stock sustainable sources.

Making conscious decisions in the fish department of your local supermarket or in a restaurant is getting easier and easier, as an increasing amount of supermarkets and restaurants alike are choosing to only stock sustainable sources. Still there are times when we need to be reminded of the best choices and why making environmentally conscious seafood decisions truly matters.

Fishing has been an important activity for thousands of years; but the advent of industrial-scale fishing, which began in the late 1800’s, has been accompanied by significant declines in both size and abundance of fish. According to Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, by the 1980s, fishing practices had made it impossible for natural fish stocks to keep up. Currently, seventy percent of the world's fisheries are now exploited, overexploited or have collapsed - but demand has continued to rise, to about 110 tons in 2006 — over eight times what it was in the 50s. And by 2030, it’s estimated that the world will need an additional 37 million tons of farmed fish per year to keep up with current levels of consumption.

The oceans seem so vast, thus teeming with seemingly limitless resources, threats are often “out of sight, out of mind,” but SupermarketGuru wants to remind you that overfishing issues are not just for future generations; they are very real problems threatening the health of our oceans. Making conscious decisions when eating out or shopping in the market can have a huge impact. Tuna is America’s favorite fish – with the many available varieties, choosing the right one can get tricky, here are some tips:

The best, most sustainable choice is American albacore tuna. This delicious big fish is caught during the summer months when vessels find their way to the tuna fields; fishing only during daylight hours. Some of the catch is frozen immediately on board and the rest is landed as fresh. The white tuna meat ends up in cans, as smoked products, or fresh at your supermarket’s fish counter.

Avoid bluefin tuna which is now on the endangered species list. Heavy consumption by the Japanese created such a demand that commercial fisheries created more efficient methods of fishing, including using airplanes to find bluefin tuna from overhead! The stock population of bluefin has declined by 75 percent during the last decade. Whether you're at your favorite sushi restaurant or local supermarket, choose another type of tuna in order to protect and allow bluefin to have the opportunity to grow again.

Big-eye and yellow-fin tuna have become very popular choices especially because of the rise in popularity of sushi. These types of tuna are found in warmer waters all over the world and are caught in many different ways. Industrialization of fishing has made it fairly easy to find tuna stocks - thus disrupting the ecosystem. In some cases these tuna species are caught by pole and line, which is the best, and most traditional, way to fish sustainably. Pole and line fishing protects coral and also limits by-catch of other species. If you cannot resist choosing yellow-fin or big-eye tuna, ask for pole and line.

For more information on sustainable choices in seafood visit www.msc.orgMonterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, or download the Seafood Watch Pocket Guide to know what's sustainable on the go.