Buying Responsibly: How Sustaining Marine Habitats Starts With You
Natural Resources On land, a clear-cut forest or smoke stack spewing gray pollution at a city’s edge give credence to ecosystem destruction.
But out at sea no one gets to see what’s happening, making is difficult to conceptualize the challenges facing the health of the oceans and the fish that live there.
Kelly Roebuck, Sustainable Sea - food Campaign Manager at Living Oceans Society says the “out of sight, out of mind” is a major barrier in promoting the move towards sustainable seafood.
"Roebuck says the best to look for when it comes to fresh or frozen tuna is pole-and-line-caught Albacore."
“The good news is the retail market is paying attention,” says Roebuck.
Wide-scale adoption of sustainable seafood programs such as SeaChoice, Marine Stewardship Council and Ocean Wise certification is on the rise, helping point consumers in the direction of responsible seafood decisions.
“Some brands and retailers have been putting more info on the product itself,” says Sarah King — Oceans Campaign Coordinator for Greenpeace Canada — adding that even if its not labeled, more information is available at the seafood counter as to where and how the seafood was caught.
“We’re seeing more and more examples of brands that are trying to break off from the pack and bring in more sustainable options.”
But what makes seafood sustainable? “Methods that are more selective,” says King. “One of the biggest (challenges) with fishing is waste of other species.”
Unsustainable methods include bottom trawling — where a giant net is dragged along the bottom of the ocean tearing up delicate habitats; long-lining — where a 100 km line drifts in the ocean with thousands of baited lines and hooks free for any creature with a hungry mouth; and pursing with a floating aggregated device — where a large net is pulled up around a device with a tracker (much like a large lure) which draws a variety of life to it.
“Those are highly indiscriminate methods with a high level of bycatch,” adds King.
These methods are byproducts of the high demand for seafood but there are ways to satisfy these needs in a responsible way says King.
Take the tuna fish for example.
Roebuck says the best to look for when it comes to fresh or frozen tuna is pole-and-line-caught Albacore.
Trolling — where lines are dragged through the water — is one of the more sustainable methods used to catch tuna off the coast of B.C.
But as more brands and bigger businesses shift towards stocking shelves with sustainable-certified seafood, the onus is still on the consumers to make responsible decisions. “If you don’t know, ask the seafood counter,” says King.