Many of us these days are paying more attention to our lifestyles and making more of an effort to incorporate sustainability practices into our daily routine. It is difficult to find one’s own unique balance between a healthy personal lifestyle and a sustainable lifestyle; one aspect that is important focuses on diet. Food is one aspect of a healthy lifestyle which, if property understood, can benefit our own personal health along with supporting ecosystems and biodiversity worldwide. We have to educate ourselves on the importance of food origin, the nutritious benefits of a balanced diet, which types of foods are best for our bodies, and are replenishable in the environment. Obviously, organic is the way to go for produce, dairy products, grains, meats, and poultry; these items benefit us more than pre-packaged, instant, fast-foods, which are typically high in calories, sodium, and various preservatives. And, the cultivation practices associated with organic items have less of a negative impact to the environment and implement sustainable farming practices. Previous articles have highlighted the importance of purchasing organic, locally grown food; however, this article will target a more specific aspect of sustainability and explain the importance of sustainable fishing.
Sustainable fishing is a term can be interpreted as fishing in open water, coastal waters, and inland freshwater areas which harbor a healthy population of sea creatures, such as fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and sharks, for example, without damaging the overall health of the species population. The importance of sustainable fishing is extremely important to preserving naturally occurring ecosystems and biodiversity, while helping to protect over-fishing of certain aquatic species. Fish are able to maintain their reproductive activities naturally; however, when fishing companies make a constant practice of catching amounts of certain fish, this jeopardizes their reproduction ability, and the resulting effect is over-fishing. If the reproductive activities of a species are compromised, the overall health of a species is in danger; certain species’ populations are not able to be replenished. Often, when the larger, more mature fish are captured, smaller fish are caught in the nets as well, they are considered waste of by-catch fish and are commonly discarded overboard. These younger fish are important in the development and growth of the species. Seriously over-fished fish are categorized as being in the “red” and include varieties of Atlantic halibut, salmon, cod, and scallops; albacore tuna; grouper; and, orange roughy. There are many reasons why these fish made the undesirable list, but sustainable fisheries are making attempts to help their populations. Sustainable fisheries are especially important in the preservation of species for the future while meeting market demand. There are plenty of other, safer varieties of seafood we can purchase which have the least negative impact to their population.
There are options to help reduce the consumption of “red” listed fish and many grocery stores and fish markets are promoting such fish. The number one simple solution to help protect these fish is to discontinue the purchasing of “red” listed fish by consumers and companies. A scorecard created by Greenpeace is a wonderful resource which rates all US grocery stores on a scale of 1 – 10, and is able to be filtered to individual states, based on specific criteria, such as implementation of their seafood policy and their support of sustainable initiatives. Local Pennsylvania supermarkets, most notably Genuardi’s, scored the highest, and is then followed by Wegman’s, Super Target, and Whole Foods. Labeling of sustainability caught fish is visible on the packaging and helps the consumer make smart purchases. There are a handful of reputable worldwide organizations who work to designates appropriate and consumer friendly labeling to help identify whether or not the fish they are purchasing are of a sustainable variety.
The importance of ecosystem biodiversity has been and will continue to be an imperative aspect of species preservation. When the reproductive activities of an organism are compromised, an irreversible cycle of population decrease occurs and ultimately, could end in the extinction of a species. Taking small steps by reminding yourself when shopping for fish at grocery stores to read the labels, and by encouraging others to do the same, will greatly contribute to ensuring the future of the species will continue to naturally increase for the future.