The sustainable seafood movement is about finding solutions for our oceans; it's about taking responsibility for our actions, and actively participating in the future of marine habitats. The problems that plague our oceans today are numerous. These include but are not limited to overfishing, habitat damage and by catch.
Overfishing occurs because we fish on a large scale. Fisheries do not just catch a couple fish, they fish thousands at a time. Not long ago, it appeared like the ocean's supply of fish was endless; but today we are discovering that it's not. There's simply not enough fish in the ocean to make up for what the fisheries take out. Overfishing means catching fish faster than they can reproduce and repopulate the seas. Putting more boats out there, with better gear is not going help us catch more fish, because there simply are not enough out there for us to catch.
Habitat damage is due to encroachment. As the human population grow exponentially, we take more from the environment. More people mean more space is needed, more pollution is created, and more harm to the environment is inflected. Some fishing boats catch fish using bottom trawlers, dragging their nets across the seafloor to try to catch more fish to feed the ever growing human population. These nets damage the seabed and it takes literal numbers to grow back. Off the coast of Australia, these bottom trawlers have destroyed six foot tall coral gorgonians which were at least 700 years old. The seafloor does not seem to get a break.
By catch occur when animals such as turtles, dolphins, seals and whales get caught, unintentionally in fishing nets. According to studies, one in four of these animals die. Moreover, thousands of fish are simply discarded because they have no value or the boat does not have room on board. Often by catch takes young fish that could help rebuild depleted populations. Once these fish are eaten by accident, however, there's little hope left. Consumers can make a difference. Campaigns against tuna companies which trapped dolphins have made the cause very present.
As a consumer you have power; by making smarter choices you can help save the ocean and contribute to sustainable seafood. Whenever you buy fish or go to a restaurant, always ask for sustainable seafood. Encourage local restaurants to serve ocean-friendly seafood. Voting with your wallet works. Spread the word. Write to your congressman. These actions signal that you want industry leaders and governments to take care of our natural resources.