The world’s fish and shellfish need our help. Climate change, overfishing and harmful fish farming practices are threatening aquatic species left and right. So what can we as consumers do about it? We can vote with our dollars! That means supporting sustainable seafood whenever possible -- rather than buying more popular but unsustainable seafood varieties. If you’re ready to make a difference, we’re here to help with a brief guide to sustainable seafood.
What is sustainable seafood?
Sustainable seafood includes species that are caught or farmed in a non-harmful way. They can expect to enjoy long-term health and stability, and the farming or fishing practices involved in harvesting that species supports the greater marine ecosystem.
How to shop for sustainable seafood
So, we’ve got your attention and you’re ready to shop for sustainable seafood. Here’s how you can do it with ease in Canada:
Look for Ocean Wise approved seafood
If you buy seafood at the supermarket, look for Ocean Wise seafood. You can literally find the Ocean Wise symbol on sustainable packages of fish. We love this organization that’s dedicated to educating consumers and producers about sustainable seafood and helping them make informed purchasing decisions. An Ocean Wise seafood recommended species is: “abundant and resilient to fishing pressures, well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research, harvested in a method that ensures limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species, harvested in ways that limit damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species.” Learn more about Ocean Wise here.
Look for the blue MSC label
Another great way to spot sustainable seafood options at the supermarket is to look for the blue MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) label. It is only applied to wild fish or seafood from MSC-certified fisheries. These fisheries have met a vigorous set of science-based requirements for sustainable fishing. They are independently assessed regarding their impacts on wild fish populations and ecosystems. This is not easy certification to obtain, in fact it can take years for a fishery to improve its operations before it can become MSC certified. After certification, assessors conduct annual surveillance reports to check on progress and re-assess fisheries every five years.
Look for these species of fish and shellfish
Not all aquatic species are created equal. You may have to say goodbye to some of your preferred species in order to eat more sustainably. Luckily there are many delicious varieties of fish and seafood that are sustainable including anchovies, Alaskan salmon, arctic char, clams, mussels, oysters and scallops, hake and silver hake, prawns and shrimp, skipjack and albacore tuna, and dungeness crab.
We hope this short guide helps you shop for sustainable seafood and do your part to keep our aquatic species, oceans and waterways healthy.