When you pass through your local grocery store and go to the seafood counter, it is often easy to disregard the source of your seafood choice. However, choosing a seafood that is sourced from a sustainable catch method can affect demand and improve depleted fishery stocks.
Demand for seafood has steadily increased and as a result, fishing has increased to meet this demand. In the process, many fisheries have been decimated from over fishing and poor management tactics. For example, the collapse of the California sardine fishery during the 1950s, and the Northern cod fishery off the East Coast of North America, show that seafood resources are not inexhaustible. However, as we come to better understand the dynamics of marine fisheries, individual consumers and businesses can make informed decisions that positively impact sustainable fisheries. Some programs are designed to influence the types of seafood that are fished or farmed.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is a program that informs consumers and businesses on how to choose seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that promote sustainable management of fisheries. The program recommends certain seafood items, and designates them as “Best Choices” or “Good Alternatives,” and indicates which ones to avoid. For example, when you search for “shrimp” on the Seafood Watch website it provides a list of all the types of shrimp available to purchase based off the species of shrimp, method used to acquire, and location. Furthermore, the program assigns each choice a score based on a criteria of data: chemicals, disease spread, effluent produced, number of escapes, feed, habitat, source, and wildlife mortalities. Providing consumers and businesses this amount of in depth information can help them understand where their seafood comes from and ultimately decide what type of fishery they want to support.
By purchasing seafood items with the “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” labels, consumers are rewarding a fishing industry that catches and farms seafood in environmentally sustainable ways. In addition, consumers can help shape the demand for what types of seafood are supplied. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program offers an information tool for consumers to understand where their seafood comes from, what practices are used, and which choices offer the best choice for environmental health. Ultimately, our choice does make a difference. By using the program’s recommendations, individuals can improve fishery stewardship and reduce unsustainable fishing practices.
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