What is Sustainably Harvested Seafood, Really? How and Why Does it Matter?
Seafood is not just good for you but also our planet when sustainably harvested. And that makes all the difference.
Food has traditionally been associated with health and wellbeing.
Over time and exponential population growth, we’ve forgotten to take care of the health and wellbeing of the source from which we obtain our food — Earth, our planet.
To be able to feed the soon-to-be 10 billion of us, we MUST prioritize sustainability.
The Problem: Nutrition vs Sustainability
We derive nutrition from a variety of foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole-grain cereals, dairy, meat and seafood. What we often fail to consider is the resources it takes to produce these foods. And more importantly, the impact these processes have on the planet.
A scientifically accurate way to measure this impact is in terms of carbon footprint, meaning the greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide) a process generates. These gases directly affect Earth’s core temperature and are key contributors to the climate change crisis.
Our global food system accounts for over a quarter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Livestock and fish farms account for about 30% of food GHG emissions.
A recent study found that red meat production results in on average 50–750 kilograms of carbon per kilogram of meat. Which is huge!
And what, rather how much, does it take to raise such livestock?
Nearly 77% of the habitable land that’s occupied by these animals.
Plus, large amounts of fresh water, AND multiple processing steps with relatively high GHG emissions.
So what do we do? Ditch meat altogether?
If we do, what’s our alternate source of protein, fats and energy?
How will the world’s population meet its nutritional requirement AND manage to be planet-positive or sustainable?
The Solution: Sustainably Harvested “Blue foods”
According to a recent study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences journal, certain foods are commonly associated with improved health and a more sustainable global food system. The seven foods identified include
Fish, and seafood, in general, are good and more sustainable sources of high-quality protein and fats. Moreover, each kilogram of wild fish caught produces only one to five kilograms of carbon, compared to the red meat numbers.
So, a mix of plant-based foods and aquatic or “blue foods” may help solve the global nutrition-vs-sustainability problem. Blue foods, on average, have much greater nutritional benefits than other animal foods, along with a significantly smaller environmental footprint.
A pescetarian diet may be the way to go.
According to Tiare Boyes, a marine conservationist and commercial fish harvester based in British Columbia, “the ocean is the world’s largest source of protein and can be a perpetually renewable resource, if managed correctly.”
Boyes and several other marine scientists, biologists, sustainability enthusiasts and climate activists are working together to promote sustainable fishing practices across the world. Among the flag bearers of this movement is an international non-profit organization, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the MSC Approach
The MSC is the world’s leading certification for sustainable wild seafood.
It recognizes and rewards efforts to protect oceans and safeguard seafood supplies for the future. MSC stands by sustainable fishing practices and guiding the choices people make when buying seafood.
They work directly with thousands of their partners around the world, including fisheries and seafood companies, to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.
- Fisheries that meet the MSC Standard are independently certified as sustainable
- Retailers and restaurants choose MSC certified sustainable seafood
- A fully audited supply chain assures consumers that only seafood from an MSC-certified fishery is sold with the blue MSC label
- Consumers preferentially purchase seafood with the blue MSC label
- Market demand for MSC certified seafood increases
- More fisheries choose to improve their practices and volunteer to be assessed to the MSC Standard
This could raise a valid and pertinent question —
How are MSC Certified Fisheries Different From the Rest?
MSC-certified fisheries actively commit to reaching a high standard of sustainability which means continuously minimizing their impacts on other species and marine habitats.
These fisheries have effective management in place and are well-equipped to respond to any changes in the health of the marine ecosystem to ensure that they continue to be sustainable in the future.
As a result, they are more prepared for climate change and have greater resilience to ensure that fish stocks and oceans remain healthy for generations to come.
Evidence suggests that sustainable fishing can also help reduce carbon emissions by increasing efficiency. And MSC-certified fisheries show that it is possible to balance economic and environmental priorities to safeguard our oceans and seafood supplies.
An analysis by the MSC shows that the annual protein needs of 72 million people would be met if all the world’s fisheries were sustainably run.
In short, the world could eat more fish if we try to catch less.
And as consumers, we play an important role in driving this change.
What Can YOU Do to Help?
Look for the ecolabel when you’re shopping for fish like cod, halibut, hake, haddock, herring, pollock, salmon or tuna. Shrimp, scallops, lobster and several other seafood products may also bear this label.
When you pick a fish with the blue label, rest assured that it is sustainably harvested at an MSC-certified fishery.
By doing so, you’re playing your part in:
- Preventing overfishing
- Preserving the health of our one shared ocean health
- Combating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing
- Preventing seafood fraud
- Ensuring this healthy, delicious and natural protein is available for the long run
Vista Global Media Collective Inc. equivocally supports eco-friendly initiatives that practice fair trade and sustainability. We’ve joined hands with the Marine Stewardship Council to promote sustainably harvested seafood and to do our bit in helping you make informed buying decisions.
To know more about what we’ve been doing in this direction, check out this informative Natural Health Influencer podcast featuring Tiare Boyes, who’s also an MSC ambassador. Our national ambassador program with influencers is currently focused on creating awareness about MSC products on social media.
Join us and millions across the world to save our oceans and our planet.
Buy seafood with the MSC blue label. Do your bit in preserving our Earth for future generations.
- Growing at a slower pace, world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and could peak at nearly 11 billion around 2100 News, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations
- Calculate Your Carbon Footprint The Nature Conservatory
- Food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions Our World in Data
- Climate change and fishing Marine Stewardship Council
- Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture Our World in Data
- Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK Climatic Change volume 125, pages179–192 (2014).
- Nutritional and greenhouse gas impacts of removing animals from US agriculture Research Article, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Aquatic foods to nourish nations Nature
- Aquatic foods to nourish nations The Blue Food Assessment
- What Is a Pescatarian and What Do They Eat? Healthline
- Sustainable Seafood is Part of the Solution to Food Insecurity Worldwide News and Opinion, Marine Stewardship Council
- What is the MSC? Marine Stewardship Council
- Our Approach Marine Stewardship Council
- 10 reasons to choose the blue fish label Marine Stewardship Council
- Sustainable fish to eat Marine Stewardship Council
- The world could eat more fish if we try to catch less News and Opinion, Marine Stewardship Council
- Episode 27: Ensuring that Sustainable Seafood is Not Left Off the Table with Tiare Boyes Natural Health Influencer Podcast