We all love a good piece of fish, right? A perfectly seared salmon with a lemon butter sauce, or maybe some mouthwatering nigiri, or even a quick and easy tuna wrap. There’s no question that fish plays a big role in our diets. Filled with optimal nutrition and generally lower in fats, they’ve become a main part of what lands on our plates and that’s not likely to change.
We won’t be altering how we eat these fish any time soon, but we do need to change how we’re sourcing them. Similar to most things we eat, there is no endless supply of these fish. The ocean is vast, but we need to be conscious that it’s an ecosystem, not a magical reoccurring food supply outlet. Since the 1950’s the demand for fish and ocean inhabitants has stripped nearly six billion tons of marine wildlife from the sea and the demand has doubled since then!
Currently, 31% of fish populations in the world are being over exploited and taken advantage of with 50-60% of fish populations being generally affected by overfishing. So, what can we do about this, because we all still want our sushi right? What we need to do is adopt a sustainable mindset. We need to put our money into sustainable initiatives that are ethically producing fish. When we buy consciously, we are buying directly from a source that is not entwined with the natural eco system of the ocean, which means we’re not disrupting it.
Ecosystems are a complicated beast; we are still trying to understand them fully and hours upon hours goes into researching them and their progression. What we do know is that any long-term reoccurring change (the high demand for fisherman to over harvest marine life from the ocean) will have a negative effect on the ecosystem because it has not naturally occurred within it.
When we over harvest marine life it takes away the amount of life that will naturally reproduce in the ocean, which then leads to a gradual decline of the species that is being over harvested until we are left with extinction. Can you imagine not being able to order a bucket of buttery grab legs anymore? No way!
Sustainable fishing doesn’t just mean farm raised, it can also mean buying from distributors that make it policy to only fish in overpopulated areas, or fish certain marine life that is threating the extinction of another. It all comes down to the people that are harvesting ethically and us putting our money and appetites with them to deter the fishermen that are taking advantage of our oceans. All it takes on our end is reading a label and doing our research.
So, let’s go over some species of marine life that have begun the sustainability initiative.
Clams, Mussels and Oysters
These guys are leading the pack with at least 89% of consumption happening through ethical farming. Great thing about them too is they function as natural water filters, so these shellfish farms are actually giving back to the ecosystem, as the shellfish grow and get ready for consumption. You can throw these guys in a delicious stew or steam them with some sea salt and lemon.
This fish can be completely farm raised, grown in recirculating tanks and being a generally very fast-growing fish, this is a great option. It is known as the Asian sea bass and is great for general searing or frying.
Focusing on specifically pacific sardines, they are fast growing and less intrusive on other species while being harvested. Throw them on the grill or of course de-scale them and slap them on some pizza.
This fish is heavily monitored and regulated as far as fishing goes. There have been careful and meticulous rules put in place for harvesting this salmon. This makes it a safe option to eat because we can ensure that the species safety and population will be protected. Salmon is great cooked any way, whether you steam, broil, bake, sear, smoke, poach or grill, salmon just works with any method.
Specifically shop for this tuna from Canadian or US pacific waters. This limits the amount of other species getting entangled in the fishing process of this tuna. You can find this tuna canned, smoked and fresh of course, just make sure to cook it all the way through!
Putting the focus towards sustainable fishing is a necessity. We need to stop affecting the natural eco system of our oceans so it can, in turn, provide us with the delicious nutrients that it naturally produces. Let us protect our oceans and move forward with initiatives that provide less interconnection with wildlife. Let’s feel good about that perfectly seared salmon, that I personally and I’m sure you too, always have a craving for!