October is National Seafood Month, which is a great time to focus on sustainable seafood. By making smart seafood choices all year, we can ensure future generations will be able to benefit from this healthy food for many years to come.
Here’s more information about National Seafood Month from NOAA Fisheries, which monitors and enforces marine fisheries within 4.4 million square miles and 95,000 coastland miles in the United States. They report U.S. fisheries are some of “the largest and most valuable in the world, supplying about a fifth of the seafood we eat in the United States.”
Can Farmed Fish Feed the World Sustainably?
The world’s population is expected to soar by 2.5 billion people by 2050, bringing a host of global challenges – including how to feed so many hungry mouths. Could aquaculture be part of the solution?
As part of UC’s Global Food Initiative, Steve Gaines – dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara – and his team analyzed global fish stocks. They found that increasing the productivity of wild-caught fish would only meet 5 to 10 percent of global demand. They are currently researching sustainable aquaculture environments.
“There are some really bad ways to do aquaculture, but if you look at best practices, they are dramatically better than any production on land. In many cases, it’s 50 to 100 times higher environmental impact to produce on land than in the ocean.” Steve Gaines, UC Santa Barbara.
Gaines’ work is part of UC’s Global Food Initiative, which seeks to address one of the most compelling issues of our time: How to sustainably and nutritiously feed a growing world population. #globalfood Read the story.
Plastics in Seafood?
It’s no secret that seafood and its essential fatty acids are healthy ingredients for a balanced diet. But you may be eating little bits of plastic in your seafood.
Maybe it happened when someone washed their fleece jacket. Or, perhaps those microbeads in their body crème were the problem.
However, roughly a quarter of the fish sampled from fish markets in California and Indonesia contained human-made debris — such as plastic and fibers from textiles, according to a study led by ecologist Chelsea Rochman while at UC Davis.
“Plastic pollution is found in all shapes and sizes in diverse habitats all over the world,” said Rochman. “This includes beaches. It includes the open ocean. It includes coral reefs, seagrass habitats, the deep sea and, often what we consider to be remote, arctic ice.”
Fourth Generation Fisherman Speaks Out
When we think of sustainable seafood at UC Food Observer, we often think of Brett Tolley, an organizer for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). He’s from Cape Cod. His mother’s family dates back to the Mayflower; his father’s family has been in commercial fishing for four generations. He told us:
“What really struck me was that the patterns of the international policies promoting the industrialization of big business were exactly the same sort of policies facing my father, my family and my community. We were not farmers, but fishermen. But the kinds of impulses that have pushed for agricultural consolidation are being mimicked on the ocean. There is a focus on putting industrialized models on fishing.”
Being Part of Solution
One of our favorite sustainable seafood resources is the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. You’ll want to take advantage of its helpful resources, which explain whether particular seafood is an ocean-friendly choice, or whether you should make a more sustainable seafood choice instead.
It’s an excellent way to make wiser seafood choices for a healthier ocean all year long.
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Restaurants can get involved with sustainable seafood, as Chef John Ash explains to us. He helped form the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions program, and was named “Seafood Educator of the Year” in 2014.