Consumers have a lot of power in the U.S. By pushing for safer and healthier foods, the public has the very real ability to change the way the food industry works. And there’s perhaps no industry more in need of consumer support than the seafood industry.
Today, the seafood industry is severely endangered. Estimates from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization show that about 90% of global fish stocks are either fully fished or overfished. Just as concerning is the Oceana report that shows bycatch of non-target species accounts for some 40% of the world’s catch.
Now more than ever, it’s essential that consumers take a stand against such irresponsible and unethical processes. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier than people think to have their voice in the matter heard.
Both at home and in restaurants, choose smaller species over larger ones. Smaller fish like Tilapia contain less mercury than bigger species, which are higher up the food chain. It’s important too to ask your fishmonger or server about the origin of the fish on your plate, and to commit to purchasing only fish that can be verified as coming from a responsible fishery.
When at the supermarket, be sure to keep an eye out for fish bearing the ASC, MSC or Ocean Wise label, as these certify that the fish in question was produced using responsible methods. By being just a little more conscious about the seafood you purchase, you are offering much needed support to the ethical farming industry.
Change Your Behavior
Even on days you’re not eating seafood, you can still support the seafood industry and the wellbeing of marine life.
Each year, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans, polluting this resource and endangering the lives of the animals that make it their home. To reduce this impact, consumers can reduce their reliance on plastic.
Instead of plastic bottles for drinking water, choose a reusable glass or stainless steel bottle. Invest in a canvas tote bag for grocery shopping instead of using plastic bags, and either buy your own reusable straw or stop using them altogether. Stop putting vegetables in plastic bags in the supermarket when you’re going to wash them anyway, and choose tupperware over ziplock bags. These small changes can make a big difference, not only in our oceans but around the world too. Considering plastic bottles can take at least 450 years to decompose, committing to using reusable products instead will have a huge impact on our environment.
Spread the Word
Many people remain misinformed about the problems currently plaguing the seafood industry, with many still holding the inaccurate belief that farmed fish is an unhealthy option. Therefore, one of the best ways we can all support the push for responsibly caught seafood is to become a spokesperson for the truth. Use your social media profiles to share articles with your friends that explain what’s really happening in the seafood industry, and speak up about the benefits of ethical farming and responsible aquaculture.
It doesn’t take a lot for all of us to make a big difference. By making good choices every day and taking a stand against unethical aquaculture practices, consumers can help change the face of the seafood industry. Responsibly sourced seafood is the key to a future of fish-filled oceans, so do your part to support the change today.
Learn more about responsibly raised fish and why we should all commit to eating it.
Photo credits: Andrey Armyagov / Shuttersyock, Ivana Lalicki / Shutterstock, Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock