Before you fire up that grill this Memorial Day weekend, consider what you cook. While many of us will hungrily devour burgers and dogs, there will be plenty of us who grill a nice piece of fish instead. In yesterday's New York Times, Ray and Ulrike Hilborn collaborated on an Op-Ed about the sustainability of overfished species. (Ray is a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington while his wife, Ulrike, is an organic vegetable and dairy farmer.)
Just because some fish have been red listed--as in the case of Whole Foods removing some of the red listed fish from their stores--doesn't mean the stock of fish can't be rebuilt. That's where appropriate seafood labelling comes in. There's a difference between overfishing and the sustainability of the species that are naturally being replenished.
The point? Be an informed consumer. We should be paying close attention to those fisheries that are actively trying to replace what they fish. That way, the cycle of life continues as does the species itself.
Know your food. What are you putting in your mouth? Where did it come from? What kind of an impact is it making on the environment and are you partially contributing to the environmental decline by purchasing it?
See the excerpt below.
Eat Your Hake and Have It, Too
By RAY HILBORN and ULRIKE HILBORN
Published: May 23, 2012
Bluefin tuna is a classic example of a species that has been consistently harvested too hard and should be avoided by consumers. But at the same time, the United States has made remarkable progress in rebuilding overfished stocks. Wild populations of 27 species have been rebuilt to “healthy” levels in the last 11 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Earlier this month, the agency announced that six formerly overfished stocks had been rebuilt, including Bering Sea snow crab, Atlantic Coast summer flounder and Gulf of Maine haddock.
But even as those stocks were being rebuilt, there were no apparent conservation benefits from the refusal of consumers to buy those overfished species. The catch was limited by rules set by regional fisheries councils based on quotas determined by fisheries scientists and enforced by the oceanic agency and by the Coast Guard. Any boycott punished American fishermen, who got a lower price when the catch was sold abroad.
Elsewhere in the world, many fisheries have become unsustainable because of fishing pressures. Most of Asia and Africa do not have management systems that regulate those pressures. And while Europe does have a management system, the quotas are often based on politics rather than science. Many European stocks are fished too hard — some cod stock, for example — and should be avoided by consumers.
If we are to fully harvest the potential sustainable yield of fish from the ocean, we cannot follow the utopian dictum that no stocks may be overfished. After all, even in sustainably managed fisheries, some stocks will almost always be classified as overfished because of natural fluctuations in their populations.
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of envirothink.files.wordpress.com.