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What is sustainable seafood?

By COASTAL WATCH - | Aug 26, 2020

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide provides consumers with sustainable seafood recommendations for their region.

The word sustainable is used often, but have you heard this referenced when speaking about seafood? Sustainable seafood is seafood that has been caught or farmed in a way that supports productive fisheries and has minimal environmental, economic and social impacts.

The demand for seafood is growing, but the supply is not — fish are being taken out of the ocean at a rate that is not scientifically advisable. Overfishing, illegal fishing, bycatch and habitat destruction have set our oceans on a path of decline. Worldwide, there are regulations in place to combat these issues, but they are often poorly enforced.

Changes can begin to be made on the individual level. Informed consumers can make a difference by finding out where their fish comes from and how is it caught, and by making responsible ocean-friendly choices.

Here are a few steps that everyone can take when consuming seafood:

– Be prepared. Print a Seafood Watch guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Website, or download the app for your smartphone to determine sustainable choices in your region. The guide provides recommendations for best choices, good alternatives and species to avoid.

– Ask questions. Do not be afraid to ask the source of the seafood, how it was caught, if it is sustainable, et cetera.

– Eat seafood less often, and eat smaller portions.

– Eat low on the food chain. Avoid large predatory fish most of the time — they are the least sustainable and contain more mercury than smaller fish.

– Eat local, or catch your own.

Part of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation family, Coastal Watch creates and implements conservation initiatives that promote and improve the future of marine resources and the coastal heritage. For more information, visit sancapcoastalwatch.org or contact coastalwatch@sanibelseaschool.org.