Many of our ocean’s fish species are becoming threatened by commercial overfishing. As consumers, we run the risk of accidentally eating an endangered shrimp in our shrimp cocktails, or a nigh-extinct species of tuna on our tuna nigiri at that one fancy sushi restaurant. However, it is not just restaurant menus that we have to be wary of; household items like pet food and nutritional supplements can also be unsustainably farmed. We are responsible for knowing where our food comes from and how.
Eating sustainable seafood is critical. Not only is it a terrible shame to cause a species to go extinct, but these fish populations are instrumental to the health of their ecosystems. Especially in larger fish species, like sharks and tunas, the environmental impact of their absence is profound.
Sadly, it is easy to eat or buy a threatened species of fish.
It is also easy to avoid eating a threatened species of fish—if you arm yourself with the right tools. The simplest way is to stop eating fish entirely, barring what we catch ourselves (this is what I do, but it is not the best method for everyone). For those who do not want to cease all fish consumption, then it is important to determine if a fish was sustainably caught. You can look for it on the packaging, but companies are not required to put that information on the package. You could ask your server at the restaurant, but the odds are that they do not know. At least, that is what I have experienced.
So, what to do? Do you risk buying the bag of ambiguously titled ‘Happy Florida Jumbo Shrimp’ without knowing if some of the small pink creatures with fished for unsustainably? Do not risk it; instead, do some research. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Seafood Watch” app is a free and easy way to conduct your research. Google and other databases will also serve you well, as will pestering your supermarkets and restaurants for the information you seek. Happy sustainable seafood eating.