Aquaculture May Be A Sustainable Seafood Choice

By Charmaine Coimbra  

Managing the seafood we eat is another PITA. Bluefin Tuna, a sushi star vs. farmed striped bass, or  grilled Chilean Sea Bass on the plate vs.farmed rainbow trout?  Bluefin tuna commands top dollar.  A recent catch brought in $176,000.  That’s just one fish equating to the price of a home.  Chilean Sea Bass, or Patagonian toothfish, is often pirated  

Bluefin tuna

because a boatload could be worth $1 million. Consequently, overfishing threatens both culinary choices.   You won’t find them on any sustainable seafood list—other than on the forbidden column.  

And our once common fish like cod, grouper, haddock, rockfish, shark, snapper and swordfish are either overfished or laced with mercury.  

Because 70% of this planet’s population depends on seafood for protein, Houston, we have a problem. This is another symptom of our seas’ unhealthy-and-growing-more-so condition.  

To remove the PITA element of choosing sustainable seafood we’ll define the phrase :“Sustainable seafood (is) either fished or farmed in a manner that can sustain (maintain or increase) production in the future without harming ecosystems,” according to the Ocean Conservancy. 

Aquaculture or fish farming, now provides more than 50-percent of the world’s consumed seafood.  

(Photo by Chef Dakota Weiss, Hotel Shangri-la, Santa Monica:  Sustainable herbed abalone, argan pommes puree, salted vanilla vinaigrette.)

 As addressed by the Ocean Conservancy, “But without a (aquaculture) plan in place, all coastlines, from New England to the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific coast, are threatened by the potential harmful impacts of a poorly regulated industry. Current laws do not properly address the real and scientifically documented risks associated with fish farming, including:  

  • Nutrient and chemical pollution caused by excessive amounts of fish excrement, antibiotics and other chemicals that flow out of pens and can affect wild fish as well as the broader marine ecosystem
  • Transmission of diseases to local fish and reduction of the health of wild populations caused when farmed fish accidentally escape from farming nets and compete with wild fish for food and habitat
  • Entanglement of natural predators like seals, sea lions, sharks, birds and other marine wildlife in fish pens.”


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But there are solutions.  From The Environmental Defense Fund, that writes,” Aquaculture, if done right, can put more seafood on more plates without harming the environment.”   

On the good news front, mega merchants like Target Corp will no longer carry  farmed Atlantic salmon at any of its 1,700-plus stores across the United States. Target consulted  the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.  

Other mass suppliers, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium, “ARAMARK and Compass Group (the two largest food service companies in North America) and Santa Monica Seafood (the largest seafood distributor in southern California and the Southwest) — are using their buying power to demand sustainable seafood from their suppliers.”  

Safeway has also announced a forthcoming sustainable seafood program for its 1,700 stores.  

Call to action

Categories: Condition of Oceans, Fisheries, Sustainable Seafood

Tags: , , , , ,

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