The Future of Fish

Elissa V.

Is something better than nothing?

That's the question facing seafood lovers everywhere. Recently, Nobu (Robert De Niro's Japanese restaurant chain) was outed by the press for serving endangered fish on its menu. The Atlantic bluefin tuna is the most common and well known example, and the negative publicity has led to a questionable remedy to the situation. Instead of removing the endangered fish from the menu, Nobu will simply post a disclaimer informing patrons of the environmental implications of ordering such fish.

"It's all very well labeling endangered species on the menu," said Greenpeace's Willie Mackenzie. "But the simple fact is, if it's endangered they shouldn't be serving it up anyway." - ecorazzi

overfishingWhether the move is minimal progress or a waste of ink is up for debate, but there is no question that the state of the world's over-fished waters has been a legitimate concern for quite some time. In response to the crisis, everyday people like you and me are investing in marine fisheries to reverse the overwhelming decline in commercial stocks.

[...] the researchers write in Friday's issue of the journal Science, allocating ownership shares of a particular fishery to individuals, cooperatives, communities or other entities gives them a reason to nurture the stock. In this arrangement, scientists set acceptable catch levels, and other authorities allocate shares, species by species, region by region.

As a local stock grows, shares in it - called catch shares or individual transferable quotas - become more valuable, just as shares of a company's stock become more valuable as the business prospers. Those who have shares in a catch have a powerful incentive for doing everything they can to protect the stock. - The New York Times

So far, the results have been positive, and it appears that catch-share systems are effectively combating the disastrous declines in global fish populations. Recent studies have shown that out of the 11,000 commercial fisheries worldwide, catch-share systems had notably smaller collapse rates than traditional fisheries.

The rapid rate in which we consume seafood combined with the lack of nutrients available to dying fish has led to a situation with limited options. Scientists estimate that there will be no more seafood by 2048 unless sustainable fishing methods are adopted and widely used throughout the world's fisheries, so perhaps catch-share systems are a viable answer to this serious problem.

 

So what can you do? There are several options:

  • EcoFish: Launched in 1999, EcoFish only sells seafood that is grown or caught in eco-friendly ways. None of the suppliers have caused harm to the environment or taken more fish out of the ocean than are born each year.
  • Seafood Selector: Created by the Environmental Defense Fund, users can research which fish are healthy for both them and the environment. They also offer a printable pocket guide for when you're on the go.
  • FishPhone: Blue Ocean Institute's sustainable fish text messaging service offers information about the environmental status of the fish you want to eat and its tasty alternatives. To find out about your seafood choice, text 30644 with the message FISH and the name of the fish in question.

Further Reading:

2 comments

If you see any unhelpful comments, please let us know immediately.

Katleen (anonymous)

So what can you do? not eating fish for a while, a long while, might be the best option, one can survive without fish!

Written in October 2008

Katleen (anonymous)

just saw the video, about avoiding bycatch by using aquaculture, do you know how much living fish they have to catch to feed these cultures? aquaculture is not a solution.

Written in October 2008

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  • Posted on Oct. 8, 2008. Listed in:

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