What we need to know
What are the main criteria for choosing seafood products wisely?
Sustainable fishing means well planned fishing, compatible with the long-term survival of the species. For this, the techniques used and the quantities of fish caught must be decided on in accordance with the biology of the species. The fish must be allowed time to reproduce and ensure their survival for future generations.
To achieve this, we must take account of the biological characteristics of each species, the stock levels, the intensity of exploitation, the quality of the available scientific information, and ensure that effective management systems are established. The impact of the fishing technique on the marine environment and the by-catch rates must also be kept in mind. Do not hesitate to question your suppliers or restaurant managers!
What type of fish am I eating?
This is the most important question to consider if we want to consume seafood products responsibly. Although traders have to use official names, certain terms or labels can lead to confusion between species in relation to which the states of the stocks differs considerably. For example, the term “bream” includes black sea bream, the consumption of which can be recommended, and “red sea bream”, which is now an endangered species. Check the scientific name of the species in order to be sure about the fish you buy.
Is this species under threat?
To answer this question, you have to know exactly which species you are buying, including its scientific name. For example, several species of sharks are threatened with extinction. When these species are offered on fish stalls under the name of “Saumonette” or “rock salmon”, it is impossible to know which species of shark it is, yet this is essential. Check with your fishmongers or restaurant managers.
Where does the species I am eating come from?
We cannot speak of a species independently of its origin. This is what influences the state of stocks and management of the fisheries. It is also essential to know the exact origin of the fish you have bought. While some stocks may be diminished to a great extent for a given species and purchase of such be advised against, others may be healthy and managed in a sustainable manner. Although it is not always easy to obtain this information, the questions you ask when shopping will help to raise the level of information available.
Is it a fishery product or a farmed product?
Every production method has an impact on the environment. Ecologically responsible supply takes these elements into consideration. In the GoodPlanet Foundation’s responsible consumption app you will find information on the various fishing and farming techniques and their environmental impact.
Why is special care required in the case of farmed fish?
Aquaculture comprises a set of practices that vary enormously according to the species cultivated, the type of rearing and the origin. It is therefore necessary to pay particular attention to the significant variability in the environmental and social conditions associated with farming. If you want to consume farmed fish, do not hesitate to ask your fishmonger or restaurant manager about the origin of and rearing conditions for the fish. If you have the choice, opt for organically farmed fish, which guarantees the best rearing conditions for the consumer.
Which fishing method was used?
Some fishing techniques have a much more harmful effect on the environment than others, damaging natural habitats or leading to substantial by-catches of young fish or unwanted species. By contrast, other methods are much more selective.
Is the fish I am eating big enough?
With regard to fishery products, consuming responsibly means buying adult fish that have had a chance to reproduce. Farmed fish are not affected by this minimum size, since reproduction is by artificial means.
Created in partnership with Seaweb Europe.