What Is Sustainably Sourced Seafood?
With the global appetite for fish endangering the populations of many species, an increasing number of retailers, restaurants and consumers alike are choosing sustainably sourced seafood. Sustainable seafood refers to fish that are caught or raised in ways that reduce the impact on both individual fish populations as well as the ocean ecosystem as a whole.
Sustainable fish are species that are plentiful or lower on the food chain. Many shellfish, like oysters or mussels, can be sustainably sourced thanks to their large populations, while fish that are low in the food chain or primarily herbivorous, such as tilapia, are always good choices. (Sustainable Seafood) Fish farming is also an important part of the sustainable seafood movement, but only when done organically and responsibly; irresponsible fish farming can cause environmental problems.
Where to Find Sustainable Seafood:
Sustainably sourced seafood is found in a variety of places, but the trick is to do your research beforehand and find decent restaurants and retailers. When looking to eat sustainable seafood, here are the places you’ll want to look:
- Larger retailers such as grocery stores
- Meal delivery kits
- Community Fisheries
Good fishmongers can be a source of high-quality seafood, but that doesn’t mean it will be sustainably caught. You’ll want to ask the manager for assurances that the fish on sale were sustainably caught, including where it was caught and the methods used. Some fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, are more environmentally damaging than others.
With a grocery store or supermarket, it can be trickier to find the source of the seafood. Do some research beforehand on the suppliers for supermarket brands, or ask a manager if they know whether their seafood is sustainably sourced. When in doubt, American-caught seafood is more frequently sustainably sourced, as American laws governing fishing practices are stricter than those of many other countries.
If you’re looking for restaurants that serve sustainably sourced seafood, simply talk to the chefs! Chefs usually know where they get their ingredients from, and if you speak to a chef who seems evasive or vague, chances are they don’t use sustainable seafood.
Meal Delivery Kits:
With rising popularity of meal subscription boxes, consumers can find responsibly-sourced seafood more easily. Many of the best meal kits offer seafood that is sustainably sourced, so consumers no longer have to worry about where their fish, shrimp, and other ocean delicacies come from. If sustainability is important to you, according to BoxedMealz, an aggregator of meal delivery service reviews, your best options are Plated, Terra’s Kitchen, Sun Basket, and Green Chef.
One of the best sources of sustainable seafood is a community fishery, where locals pay to receive a share of all fish caught. By joining a community fishery, you’ll know exactly where your fish is caught, and small-scale fishermen tend to use more sustainable fishing methods.
The only way to be sure you’re buying sustainably sourced seafood is to do the research yourself. Aside from researching suppliers or talking to management, another way to find sustainable seafood is to look for certification from organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council, which provides labeling and certification for sustainably-sourced brands. Most of all, choose to eat sustainable fish rather than over-fished species. Lists of sustainable alternative to popular fish are available through programs such as Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.