So, you want to start purchasing only sustainable seafood – good for you! Enjoying sustainable seafood creates a healthy relationship between us and our oceans. When we consume seafood that isn’t sustainable, we leave a dangerous mark on our ecosystem.
In 2011, the World Wildlife Fund discovered that while 91 per cent of Canadians want to eat sustainable seafood, less than 10% of them felt like they had enough information on where to get it.
While making this decision is a step in the right direction, how can you tell which seafood is and isn’t sustainable?
What Should I Look For?
Approximately 65 per cent of people look to packaging to decide which seafood truly is sustainable. Typically, organizations will provide fisheries with a certification of sustainability. While there are various “stamps of approval” available, the most recognizable certification comes from the Marine Stewardship Council, a not-for-profit known for its global standard for sustainable fishing.
Beyond the Label
While a sustainability label is a sure-fire way to tell your product is sustainable, there are some flaws to the system. It can cost up to approximately US$120,000 for a fishery to brand itself with the MSC label. With a cost this high, paired with the high and constantly growing demand for sustainable seafood, certification companies have become more of a marketing scheme than an accountability system.
This means that smaller fisheries who are fishing in the most sustainable ways are unlikely able to afford the label, and therefore are not properly represented on shelves.
So, how do I Know What’s Actually Sustainable?
Eating sustainably is entirely possible. While looking to the grocery store label is one way to go about it, if you’re looking to delve deeper and ensure you’re eating the most sustainable seafood you can, here are a few rules of thumb:
- Do your research! There’s tons of online information about sustainable fisheries and their methods.
- Shop locally. Buy your seafood from community-supported fisheries so you know exactly where your food is coming from and how it was caught.
- Be diligent! Only buy from local establishments and restaurants that you trust.
Happy sustainable eating everyone!
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