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Is Any Seafood Ethical to Eat?

sexta-feira, agosto 23, 2019

sustainable seafood for sale

Food ethics are increasingly complex and deeply personal, but scientifically backed sustainable seafood exists

Question: Is there a sustainable way to have a diet that includes seafood? Any suggestions on how one can keep buying fish in a sustainable way. Is that even possible?
sustainable seafood for sale
A sign above a seafood counter reads: "If it's not sustainable, we won't sell it."

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Answer: Yes, sustainable seafood exists! Food ethics are increasingly complex and deeply personal, but many people who choose not to eat seafood make this choice because of environmental concerns associated with overfishing (including unsustainable catch limits, non-target bycatch and habitat destruction caused by certain types of fishing gear). There’s no doubt that there are lots of problematic seafood choices on the market, but there are also sustainable options.


I’ve seen lots of advice over the years, and some of it has a ring of truth to it. Many shellfish tend to be pretty sustainably harvested, though be careful with shrimp. Wild-caught shrimp can result in high rates of bycatch, and shrimp farmed in parts of Asia and Central America often have human-rights or environmental implications. I once shared an article on Facebook about bycatch in shrimp trawls, and my parents, God bless ’em, greeted me at Thanksgiving, saying, “We got some nice farmed shrimp from Thailand instead.”

Eating lower on the food chain is a good idea when you can. Anchovies are more sustainable than many tunas—I’ve heard it said that the land food-chain equivalent of eating tuna would be eating a dragon that ate dinosaurs that ate cows. Some aquaculture (fish farming) practices are indeed problematic, but be skeptical of people who say you should never eat farmed fish—some aquaculture practices are good enough that their products are more sustainable than their wild-caught equivalent.

If you don’t have a Ph.D. in fisheries science and/or don’t want to read through the latest stock assessments every time you go out for dinner, I suggest you check out the consumer sustainable seafood guides designed to simplify your choices. Many, like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, sort their recommendations into a pretty straightforward hierarchy: green (eat this guilt-free), yellow (don’t eat this too often) or red (this is unsustainable; maybe have the chicken). This can get confusing if you’re comparing the recommendations of several guides, so I suggest sticking with one, and Seafood Watch is a good one, widely used by experts and non-experts alike. I may personally quibble with a few of its recommendations here and there, but if every consumer were making their choices based off of Seafood Watch’s recommendations, the ocean would be doing much better than it is now!

But, you may ask, if there’s any doubt or confusion at all, why wouldn’t a scuba diver who loves the ocean just remove seafood from their diet entirely? Because seafood is healthy, seafood is delicious and the seafood industry supports nearly 2 million jobs in the United States alone providing a further economic incentive to keep the ocean healthy and productive. Besides, if everyone who cares deeply about the ocean stops eating seafood entirely, the only people eating seafood will be people who don’t care deeply about the ocean, which removes a powerful economic incentive for the seafood industry to make products more sustainable. When you’re voting with your wallet, supporting things you like can be as important as not supporting things you don’t like.

So, in short, you’re not wrong if you choose not to eat seafood for a variety of ethical reasons, but sustainable choices backed by science exist if you want to keep seafood as part of your diet.

Page: Sport Diver

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