What is Sustainable Fishing?

Our oceans are home to countless species of marine life, many of which we fish for food. As our demand for seafood has increased, we have evolved fishing practices to catch more fish more efficiently. The challenge is that these practices aren’t necessarily focused on the future and can leave fish populations dangerously depleted, with an incredible impact on marine ecosystems. This is the status quo, and it’s unsustainable.

Sustainable fishing is the responsible action we take to makes sure that the seafood we’re  harvesting today meets our needs, while also ensuring that we can maintain a healthy marine ecosystem and have seafood to meet our needs in the future, too.

It’s an uphill battle, but organizations such as the Marine Stewardship Council are working to set standards and provide certification for sustainable fishing, helping to raise awareness and address some of the issues facing our oceans.

Sustainable populations

Are there really plenty of fish in the sea? Well, the answer is complicated. Over the years, many fishing practices have depleted populations of certain species of fish. By using techniques that can catch hundreds or thousands of fish at a time, these populations have been fished faster than they can replenish themselves through reproduction, leaving some species decimated. So due to overfishing, there really aren’t plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to certain species.

An important part of sustainable fishing focuses on maintaining healthy populations of fish, and preventing those populations from becoming depleted. Methods of fishing that catch fewer fish at once and practices that avoid catching them before they’ve spawned help to keep population numbers strong.

Environmental Impact

Bycatch: In addition to their impact on fish populations, fishing practices can also impact the overall marine ecosystem. The same fishing practices that catch large numbers of fish at a time also often capture unintended species. This is referred to as bycatch and it can be devastating for the populations of those species that fall victim to it. Examples of species vulnerable to bycatch include sea turtles, birds, aquatic mammals like dolphins, and other species of fish.

Ghost gear: Lost or discarded fishing equipment, known as ghost gear, litters the ocean, damaging marine habitats, and continues to ensnare marine life, resulting in injuries and death for many animals.

Sustainable fishing practices minimize damage to the overall marine ecosystem by decreasing or eliminating bycatch and the risk of leaving ghost gear behind.

Effective Fisheries Management

While maintaining healthy population numbers and minimizing environmental impact are important components of sustainable fishing, we’re continuing to learn about our impact on the world’s oceans and the creatures that live within them. Research and relevant regulation are evolving daily as our understanding of this impact deepens. As such, it’s essential that fisheries not only comply with environmental laws but also adapt in response to changing circumstances. Our commitment is to ourselves, to you, and to the ecosystem that we share: we believe that sustainable fishing is important, and we’re working towards being more sustainable with every catch.

Sources:

https://www.msc.org/standards-and-certification/fisheries-standard
https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/sustainable-fishing/
https://www.ghostgear.org/