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Sustainable Seafood

The emergence of sustainable seafood programs makes it easy for consumers to support sustainable fisheries. Consumers can help heal and restore the oceans, instead of furthering degradation, through the choices they make in seafood. Over the past two decades, the world's fishing fleets have come to employ increasingly sophisticated technology to locate and harvest seafood (finfish and shellfish), including sonar, GPS, satellite data, seafloor scouring devices, long-lines, and highly effective gill nets. Today, as a result, 80 percent of the world's commercially-fished species are being fished at or beyond the brink at which their populations can sustain themselves ( i.e., beyond sustainable levels). Annual seafood catches have now declined worldwide despite increased efforts by fishers. In addition, the sea's top predators have been reduced in numbers (by over-fishing) as much as 90 percent. Further, poorly designed coastal aquaculture farms are destroying the world's shores. Humans are now over-fishing nearly every commercial marine species, disrupting natural ocean ecosystems, altering oceanic food webs, and destroying coastlines around the world. And, a third of all the commercial seafood harvested in the world goes to fishmeal and fish oil, not to feed hungry humans.

Sustainable Seafood means that it is captured in a way that doesn't risk the future of the fishery. This is actually better for everyone. When a species is "overfished", it leads to a number of problems for the fish and the fisher. First, there are fewer fish. This makes them harder to capture and, with fewer parents, there will be fewer offspring. Second, the fish tend to get smaller. They mature at a smaller size and at a younger age. Smaller fish produce fewer offspring. A fishery that exhibits these characteristics becomes less profitable, which eventually has a far-reaching economic impact: fishers, boat manufacturers, hotels and restaurants can all suffer Sustainable seafood program follows release in April 2004 of a preliminary report by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy to Congress. The commission conducted the first comprehensive federal study of the oceans in 30 years and urged some bold reforms to reverse distressing declines in ocean health and for sustainable oceans.

In June 2003, the independent Pew Oceans Commission completed its own study, warning that the nation's coastal areas are in crisis. The findings are expected to pressure Congress and the White House to adopt measures to protect our oceans.

For the first time in history, in 2004, oceans were represented by a political action committee. A non-partisan group called Ocean Champions (www.oceanchampions.org ) is tracking coastal communities and supporting candidates that it hopes will support a "blue movement" to protect our oceans.

Our world's fish supplies are vanishing from our seas because they have been over fished or harvested using harmful fishing techniques. In order to keep our favorite seafood abundant, its important to support sustainable seafood practices.

Nearly one-third of the seafood consumed in the world is now farm raised. Aquaculture has the potential to relieve pressures on declining wild populations and create sustainable seafood production - if it is done right. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Most saltwater fish farming further threatens wild fish stocks and disrupts or destroys natural habitats. The culture of carnivorous seafood ( e.g., shrimp, salmon) requires catching huge quantities of wild fish to feed them. It takes over 3 pounds of wild-caught fish to raise one pound of farmed salmon or shrimp, resulting in a net loss of fish from the sea. About a quarter of all seafood caught in the wild is converted into fishmeal to feed farmed fish and shrimp. Farmed fish frequently escape into waterways or to the sea, polluting the gene pools of wild species and introducing exotic diseases. Many farms also release large amounts of untreated waste into surrounding waters, waste that contains fecal matter, drugs, and other chemicals used in aquaculture facilities. Non-domestic shrimp farms built on the coast typically degrade or destroy natural habitat, such as coastal estuaries and lagoons, and mangrove forests.

For all these reasons, herbivorous fish (those species low in the food chain), such as catfish and tilapia, are the best options for harvesting and for consumers. If you must buy shrimp, buy U.S. wild-caught or farmed shrimp where strict guidelines are in place. Avoid purchasing all top carnivores ("apex predators"), such as grouper, sea bass, corvina, snapper, orange roughy, rockfish, and sharks. These fish are long-lived and commonly harvested before they have spawned. Avoid purchasing all seafood dredged from the sea floor, such as clams, oysters, scallops and shrimps (purchase hand or shovel-harvested shellfish). The dredging operations disrupt the seabed ecosystem and, in some cases, totally destroy it. Avoid fish taken by long-lines. This non-discriminating fishing method kills hundreds of thousands of non-target organisms, including sea turtles and porpoises, and have largely been responsible for the plummeting world bluefin tuna populations (bluefin tuna catch has fallen 90 percent since 1963).

OrganicDirect's fish suppliers are well known for offering the highest quality seafood from sustainable sources. They bring to our consumers the freshest, best seafood available, whether it is a local catch or an exotic item from overseas. From wild fish caught in a responsible manner to farmed seafood raised without antibiotics or synthetic additives.

We sell seafood that is caught or raised in an environmentally sensitive manner because we are highly committed to our consumers, ocean conservation, and improving the growth and sustainability of seafood businesses. Sustainable seafood is labeled by country of origin, so we always know where our seafood comes from. Fish is also is free of preservatives, sulfates and chemical dips. If it doesn't meet our strict standards, it doesn't make it to our stores.

Sustainable fishing practices allow a threatened fish population to recover to a healthy level, and ensure healthy fish populations don't become depleted. Sustainable fishing practices also help maintain the health and diversity of our oceans and rivers so fish can thrive. By managing fisheries in a sustainable manner, fishing will continue to supply people's nutritional and economic needs around the world for many decades to come.

Choose sustainable seafood and help support our oceans and our health.

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