What is Sustainable Seafood?
Sustainable seafood refers to seafood that is caught or farmed in a way that preserves the natural resources and minimises the environmental impact. With dwindling seafood resources around the world because of over-fishing and pollution, as well as the changing climatic conditions, it has become extremely important for consumers to vote for sustainable fishing practices with their purses and wallets.
Consumers who buy sustainable seafood, or rather certified sustainable seafood, from trusted brands such as Sea Harvest at retailers, fish mongers, and wholesalers, are playing their part in protecting the ocean’s resources and the livelihood of fishing communities. If the resources are depleted because of poor ocean resource management, then many people will lose their jobs and livelihoods. As such, when buying sustainable seafood, consumers also invest in the economic wellbeing of their fellow citizens.
The movement for sustainable seafood started in the nineties with awareness campaigns regarding over-fishing, harmful fishing practices, and ocean pollution. This has led to many larger companies, such as Sea Harvest, becoming involved and leading the way to ensure sustainable fishing practices, so that future generations can also benefit from healthy fish resources.
Research has shown that even marine resources under tremendous pressure can recover completely when sustainable fishing practices are followed and environmental legislation enforced to protect resources.
Any unethical and reckless fishing practices affect the ocean and global fish stocks. It is thus not a local issue, but an international concern. If there is over-fishing in waters surrounding the coast of, for example, Japan, China, or Australia, it affects South Africa as well. If fish resources are depleted in any part of the ocean, then there is more pressure on the rest of the ocean, as the demand for the fish remains. As such, the harvesters may look elsewhere to get more fish, and thus place additional pressure on the resources in the waters surrounding other countries.
Sea Harvest is one of the fishing companies that meets the standards set by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC, through which fisheries can be certified, promotes sustainable seafood fishing practices through a range of standards and through eco-labelling. The eco-labelling helps consumers to identify seafood products that have been caught using sustainable practice methods according to the certification requirements of the MSC.
It is important to understand that the MSC sets the standards against which a fishery or fishing company is judged. An independent third party audits the company to determine compliance with the MSC standard requirements. This ensures integrity of the certification process.
With that in mind, it is imperative to choose fish that have been harvested sustainably. Hake is an excellent alternative to many of the endangered fish species, and with companies such as Sea Harvest being known for efforts in conservation and protection of the fish resources and ocean where Sea Harvest trawls, it is recommended to only buy from such brands known and recognised for their commitment to sustainable seafood fishing practices.