Seafood consumption may deplete our precious resource

By Maria Johnson
Staff Writer

Concerns about the ocean’s health have surfaced in recent years, highlighting how much we rely on the ocean for food and livelihoods, and raising questions about the regulation of this valuable resource. Any consumer of seafood wields great influence over the demand for harvest of a particular species.  Helpful tools can help us make smart decisions.

The greatest impact on the worlds’ oceans is fishing, a practice thousands of years old that founded the relationship between humans and the sea. The US is the country labeled as the second largest consumer of seafood, so individual consumers have major control over what is fished and what is left to flourish.

Seven-year employee at Prescott’s Fry’s Food Store, Nick Larson, comments how very few customers ask about the sustainability of what they are purchasing. “They sometimes ask about where it’s from or if it was farm-raised or wild-caught, but that’s about it.”

To put the power in consumer’s hands, multiple organizations have produced ways to easily inform seafood eaters about their choices. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program provides tools such as pocket-sized guides, iPhone apps, and sustainable seafood recipes to point towards informed choices at sushi restaurants and grocery stores.

These resources not only offer information about what choices are good for the ocean, but what will benefit the consumer’s health as well. In the pocket-sized seafood guide, the best choices, good alternatives, and seafood to avoid are clearly listed. Their website, Seafood Watch, has an intricate guide to the best substitutes for numerous species, and information on why certain fisheries are unsustainable.

To access these resources visit: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx.

This article appeared in the March 2011 print edition of The Raven Review.
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