Consumers: Eat More Seafood

Last week a new paper was published in Marine Policy estimating the proportion of US seafood imports that may be attributable to illegal fishing.  I was a researcher on the study.  Its point was to define the problem so action can be taken to reduce overfishing.

Here at the Sustainability Incubator we work by choice on the solutions side of overfishing and engage the industry to do so.  Sometimes we can’t start work on a solution however because the problem has not been adequately defined, with workable units and so on.  Then of course it is necessary to also contribute to the problem definition.  That is certainly true for this issue.

There has been some media on it, for example a story by Darryl Fears in today’s Washington Post. What is not said but implied but dead wrong is that the study is anti-fishing and anti-seafood. To the contrary the research premise is to keep people fishing longer good management is needed to sustain bountiful stocks of seafood in the seas. It’s a problem definition paper so the solution side of the issue is not explored. However I’d like to offer one idea for what it means for those of us who love to eat seafood.  Simply, if you want to invest in better fisheries: eat more seafood.  

It costs money to manage fisheries for sustainability.   Many seafood companies like our clients are showing true leadership by investing directly in fisheries improvements.  The long-term funding for fisheries improvements must come from better seafood sales.

Eat it to love it.  Buy it to invest in it.  Literally sustain the seas by taking the time to pick out yummy seafood at the grocery store and preparing it in a delicious way for your family so they will enjoy it and can’t wait to eat it again.  Seafood is a treasure to me, the highest quality source of animal protein that we have on the planet and some of our last wild food.  Bigeye tuna from Hawaii and sockeye salmon from the Skeena River – holiest foods on the planet to me.  Recently in Boston I had the pleasure of eating fresh oysters with a friend. We made our way through many offerings from regional family farms.  Don’t get me started on barbecued scallops, geoduck (mirugai) and fresh sweet crab.   I have fantasies about gooseneck barnacles.   I could go on and on (but then I get too hungry).

Genuinely, the fastest way to be a genuine part of the sustainability solution is to eat more seafood.  Pay attention to seafood.  Pay for it and bring it into your household on a regular basis. Know you are doing something right: supporting an industry already making huge changes and investments in fisheries sustainability.  These are personal acts that will sustain seafood and marine ecosystems for your children and generations to come.

Happy eating.

Illegal Fishing Paper headlined in National Geographic

A paper with the title ‘Estimates of illegal and unreported fish in seafood imports to the USA’ has recently been published in the Marine Policy Journal, Vol 48, pg 102–113, and is already gaining lots of attention. It states that 20% to 32%  of wild-caught seafood US imports are illegal. National Geographic featured the results in their Daily News, April 9th 2014: