We are all aware that there are issues with our fish supplies and we need to be eating the right type of fish to keep our supplies going but do we know what we should be eating which wont impact the environment. This article explains the importance of sustainable fishing, what fish we should be eating and why, and how to source sustainable fish.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE FISHING?
Sustainable fishing means leaving enough fish in the ocean and protecting habitats and threatened species. By safeguarding the oceans, people who depend on fishing can maintain their livelihoods.
WHY IS FISH CONSUMPTION AT THE HEART OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ISSUES?
Crucially important for much of humanity, fish provides 17% of the animal protein consumed worldwide (7% for all proteins, plant and animal), provides 60 million direct jobs in the primary fisheries and aquaculture sector (40 and 20 million jobs respectively), and creates a total first-sale value of nearly £400 billion. More than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.
WHAT IS THE STATE OF MARINE RESOURCES?
They are in very bad shape overall. Globally, 34% of fish stocks are currently exploited unsustainably. 66% are considered to be sustainably harvested (at maximum yield or under-exploited). This last figure is misleading, the proportion of fish stocks “exploited” at biologically sustainable levels was 90% forty years ago! Because of overfishing, the room for manoeuvre is getting smaller every year. Catches at sea have been stagnating for the past 40 years. Even with increased fishing effort, the ocean is not able to offer more. If we reason in terms of quantities landed and no longer in terms of “stocks”, almost 80% (78.7%) exactly) of the catches come from biologically sustainable stocks. 2 kg of fish out of 10 continue to be biologically unsustainable stocks.
Did you know that 80% of the seafood we eat in the UK is made up with just five different species? We call them the big five; cod, haddock, salmon, tuna and prawns. Not only is that really boring, but it's a pretty bad idea. It puts a lot of pressure on a handful of wild stocks and creates demand that drives unsustainable fishing and farming practices. With recent research by ocean conservation charity Oceana showing that only a third of the fish stocks in the waters around the UK are in a healthy state, this is a problem we need to tackle fast.
Take a look at what swaps you could make below and how sustainable the seafood on your plate is.
Cod UK stocks are doing very badly, but stocks from Iceland are healthy and currently at sustainable levels A sustainable swap: hake Thanks to good management and beneficial environmental conditions hake is now a great sustainable choice. European hake has a very similar texture to cod: meaty and flaky. Swapping is as simple as substituting same weight/quantity in almost all recipes.
Tuna There are lots of different types of tuna, and sustainability depends on species, location and fishing methods. Generally, the best options are skipjack and albacore caught with pole and line or handline. Make sure you check the Good Fish Guide if you're going to eat tuna as some species are red rated 'Fish to Avoid'! A sustainable swap: sardines Sardines from the southwest UK are a great choice thanks to healthy population sizes and a low impact fishing method. Sardines are classed as an oily fish meaning it’s packed full of omega-3’s and nutrients. If you don’t fancy whole sardine fresh from the fish counter, then try tinned, they're just as good!
Prawns Sourced from all over the world, prawns can be sustainable, depending on what species they are, and where and how they were caught or farmed – check the Good Fish Guide. Generally, prawns with an eco-label like Organic, MSC or ASC are the best choice. A sustainable swap: mussels. Give warm-water king and tiger prawns a rest. Choose UK rope-grown mussels instead, they’re one of the most ocean-friendly choices you can make. Grown using low-impact methods, harvested by hand and get all the food they need from the sea around them. They cook in no time, and are packed full of protein and nutrients. What’s not to love?
Salmon Wild Atlantic salmon is not doing so well, and the environmental performance of most farmed salmon still needs improving. In the UK, organic and Scottish ASC-certified farmed salmon is a better choice. A sustainable swap: farmed trout .Closely related to salmon, farmed trout is a great alternative. Look for rainbow trout farmed in freshwater ponds in the UK for the best options. Trout has a very similar texture to salmon, with a slightly stronger flavour (it’s even more delicious in our opinion!). It’s really widely available in supermarkets and easy to swap fillet for fillet in a recipe.
Haddock Actually, some haddock is sustainable! Haddock from the North Sea, as well as Iceland, is currently a great choice. But why not try something different… Why not try plaice from the North Sea instead of haddock? Why not try plaice from the North Sea, where stocks are booming. Plaice is a flat fish with a light, flaky texture and a mild flavour. It's delicious pan fried with a simple herb butter. We should all try to diversify the seafood in our diets. By mixing up your meals, you’ll help remove some of the strain placed on a handful of farms and fisheries, you'll be supporting more UK suppliers and, who knows, you might discover a new favourite fish.
(taken from the mcsuk.org website)