Sustainability is a buzzword that is everywhere these days—with good reason. Many resources on our planet are rapidly being depleted, and we need to learn to manage these resources in a sustainable way, experts say. For example, research shows that two-thirds of the world’s fish stocks are fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted or recovering at a slow rate. This makes getting people to buy sustainable seafood an important step forward.
But what does “sustainable seafood” mean? In 2011, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) surveyed Canadians about their knowledge of sustainable seafood. Ninety-one percent felt it was important that fish and other seafood on sale in Canada come from sustainable and non-overfished stocks. On the flip side, only eight percent felt they had adequate information about where their seafood comes from and where they could get sustainable seafood.
To change these statistics, the first step is to clearly define “sustainable seafood.” It is fish and shellfish that come from well-managed sources, says WWF. The fishermen follow practices that allow the fish populations to grow and thrive rather than be depleted.
The next step is to help people find it when they are shopping. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) works with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote the best environmental choices in seafood and uses the highest level of assessment standards of all programs when certifying a fishery. They play a vital role in improving the health of the oceans. Worldwide, more than 8,000 seafood products have become MSC-certified, so when you are choosing your seafood, you should look for the blue fish checkmark MSC ecolabel.
The final step is to convince people to eat it. Our oceans are in a state of crisis, says WWF, and it is up to us to start making choices and taking actions that can help mitigate the consequences of decades of harmful fishery harvesting practices, pollution and a changing climate. When purchasing seafood, choose products with the MSC label.
If MSC-certified products are not available, ask your retailers where their fish products come from. If your retailers can’t provide the answer, let them know that you want to know and that you want the answer to be certified. You can learn more about this topic online at wwf.ca/conservation/oceans/sustainable_seafood.
MSC Certified Fisheries in Canada
The MSC has certified that these seafood products come from sustainable stocks:
North West Atlantic Canada harpoon swordfish
North West Atlantic Canada longline swordfish
Eastern Canada offshore scallop fishery
Gulf of St. Lawrence northern shrimp trawl fishery Esquiman Channel
Scotian Shelf snow crab trap
Gulf of St. Lawrence northern shrimp
Gulf of St Lawrence snow crab trap
Canada northern and striped shrimp
Canada Scotian Shelf northern prawn trawl
British Columbia sockeye salmon
Canada Pacific halibut (British Columbia)
British Columbia pink salmon
Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation British Columbia albacore tuna North Pacific
British Columbia spiny dogfish
Alaska flatfish—Gulf of Alaskaby