Living Lightly | Making better seafood choices

UNDER PRESSURE: Our passion for seafood is causing a crisis in our oceans and as consumers we need to be far more aware of sustainable products.
UNDER PRESSURE: Our passion for seafood is causing a crisis in our oceans and as consumers we need to be far more aware of sustainable products.

I’m on the seafood diet; I see food, and I eat it – Homer Simpson.

Perched on an island as we are, both Indigenous Australians and European settlers alike have historically enjoyed the fruits of the sea. Furthermore, as a nation of people who enjoy a summer Christmas, the turkey will often be replaced on the menu by seafood.

The inconvenient reality is, however, that global fish populations have been devastated by humankind, with recent estimates indicating that 90 per cent of the world's fisheries are now fully exploited, over-exploited or have collapsed. Shifting away from a purely environmental perspective, fishing supports the livelihoods of an estimated 520 million people. Many of these people are from developing countries living as subsistence fishermen, and the depletion of fish stocks is causing hunger and poverty in these communities.(1)

So how does the informed consumer proceed? The good news is that you can still buy seafood as a treat, you just need to be thoughtful about your choices. Happily, there is a lot of information and assistance available. Log onto ‘switch the fish’ and use the helpful table to determine a sustainable option: www.sustainabletable.org.au. You can also download the free sustainable seafood apps Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide and Seafood Watch.

Finally, a note about products that are labelled dolphin safe and dolphin friendly. Dolphin-friendly fishing practices are not necessarily shark, turtle and other animal friendly. Secondly, consumers who see the dolphin friendly insignia may be hoodwinked into believing that this is a guarantee of sustainable fishing practices. This is manifestly incorrect, and in fact dolphin-friendly fishing practices are not contingent upon sustainable yields.

The author acknowledges the website www.sustianabletable.org.au.(1)https://www.sustainabletable.org.au/Hungryforinfo/SustainableSeafoodGuide