This is a more complicated question than you might think. But the good news is that both businesses and consumers—you—can play a role in maintaining the sustainability of our ocean resources, simply by being informed.
Joey Brookhart / Marine Photobank
The word sustainable means different things to different people. Essentially, it is the capacity to endure and maintain. Sustainability is crucial in maintaining a long and healthy future for marine life and society, as more than one billion people rely on seafood for their primary source of animal protein and several hundred million more depend on fish or shellfish as their main source of income.
The sustainable seafood movement began when scientists, conservationists and leaders in the seafood industry realized that human demand for seafood was having an impact on the long-term viability of fish, one of the world’s most widely traded and valuable wildlife commodities. Seafood sustainability has gained increasing momentum in recent years; beginning with a committed few, it now is fueled by the energy of many leaders from across fishing and fish-farming industries, seafood businesses, media and conservation groups.
So what is sustainable seafood? Many organizations look to the following guidelines for fish and shellfish, adapted from the Marine Stewardship Council's criteria. They should be:
- from a healthy population,
- caught or farmed using methods that don't harm marine life, and
- from fisheries or farms that are responsibly managed.
Improvements in how seafood reaches our tables have primarily focused around these core environmental aspects of its production. More recently, the sustainable seafood movement has widened its scope to more fully consider the social and economic concerns relating to a sustainable supply of seafood as well as wider environmental concerns linked to climate change.
Many organizations internationally have created guides for consumers that indicate responsible seafood choices, based on the above principles. Some of the most well-known and widely available guides are listed here:
Jim Gillmore / Marine Photobank
France and Other Countries
For further information about sustainable seafood resources for consumers, visit our Seafood Choices resources and KidSafe Seafood's Best Choices lists.
Specific information on farmed species can be found in our Aquaculture Resources
For people who's business involves buying or selling seafood—chefs, restaurateurs, grocers and retailers, fishermen and others—it can be a real challenge to ensure the seafood they offer can be considered sustainable given the complex nature of these issues and the plethora of information available. For chefs and restaurateurs, SeaWeb's Seafood Choices Alliance has created purchasing guides that bring together information in an easy-to-use format:
For further information for businesses, visit: http://www.seafoodchoices.org/resources/links.php#businessresources