How can making sustainable seafood choices save animals? Unsustainable fishing practices are negatively affecting marine habitat and species, such as sharks, sea turtles, dolphins and sea birds. Oceans are vital to sustain life on Earth. Due to their vastness, oceans seem indestructible and their resources limitless. In reality, the ocean is a natural resource which needs oversight and management. Unsustainable fishing practices have great decreased fish populations, hurt endangered species and destroyed marine habitat. The practices include:
• Overfishing – about 90% of fisheries are fully exploited and at risk for collapsing
• Illegal fishing – illegal gear can harm marine habitats and threaten human rights
• Bycatch – the accidental catch of unwanted species; in some cases, this happens when large nets the length of three football fields are used to catch a target species. They may be meant to catch shrimp or other fish but may also catch endangered sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and even sea birds. These unwanted animals are then thrown back into the ocean dead or dying.
• Habitat damage – fishing gear affects more than the species involved. Gear can scrape across the ocean floor to catch bottom-dwelling fish, tearing up coral and marine habitat in its wake, never to bounce back.
• Fish farming – more than 50% of fish consumed worldwide is farm raised; it has the potential to be sustainable or unsustainable.
• Aquaculture has lots of potential to be a sustainable solution.
So what’s the solution? Download the Sustainable Seafood Watch Guide app to your smartphone and use it when you’re shopping for sustainable seafood at a restaurant or the grocery store. Created by Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Seafood Watch® program engages and empowers consumers and businesses to purchase seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that minimize environmental impact. Seafood Watch® ranks seafood and sushi on a scale of sustainability: “Best Choices” (green); “Good Alternatives” (yellow); and “Avoid” (red), based on where they were and how they were fished. When dining out or shopping for seafood, ask this simple five- word question: “Do you sell sustainable seafood?”
Share this information with your friends and family. Raising awareness is key to saving our oceans!
Conservation Education Initiatitives Supervisor