If you’re keen to keep your eating habits sustainable but don’t want to skip out on your weekly fish and chips fix – fear not! We’ll give you the rundown on the least and most environmentally-friendly options on the market.
To start off, here are a few of the basic ways to ensure you’re getting sustainable products:
- Properly vet your product: The labels may say “sustainable”, but this isn’t a guarantee of ethical practices, nor does it indicate how they measure up to other fisheries. Before you make a purchase, do some investigating online.
- Check for the CMS tick: The blue MSC label (Marine Stewardship Council) on your product packaging indicates that a fishery has been vetted and independently tested for sustainable practises. This way you’ll know if your choices come from companies that practice sustainable management.
- Check the GoodFish Sustainable Seafood Guide: This website catalogues everything from shellfish to sharks, showing you the most sustainable options. Let’s take a look at some of the worst and best rated seafood options:
Least sustainable options
- Albacore tuna: One of the issues with consuming this tuna is that overfishing is putting their population and habitat at risk. Other animals are also at risk of being caught up due to the fact that longline nets are used, meaning they have a high bycatch rate – this includes sharks! Yep, even these sizeable sea creatures are experiencing population decline as a result of high bycatch rates.
- Atlantic salmon: This Tasmanian-farmed salmon is one of the worst choices for sustainability, and this is due to the environmental effects on Macquarie Harbour. These include low oxygen levels and increasing dead zones found in the ocean, with excessive salmon production a major contributor. Over a million farmed fish died between 2017 and 2018 a direct result of reduced oxygen levels.
- Shark and gummy shark: You probably recognise these sharks as “flake” at your local fish and chip shop, but the excessive farming practices put a range of species at risk. For instance, New Zealand shark fisheries threaten the endangered Hector’s dolphins, along with the critically endangered Maui dolphins.
- John Dory: Everything is not hunky dory when you eat John Dory – this species is facing mass overfishing, leaving their population and habitats at serious risk. Other threatened animals also end up getting caught in the process – including Australian fur seals and shortfin Mako sharks.
Most sustainable options
- Oysters: Oyster farm operations have minimal impact on the surrounding environment, making them a better choice than scallops and abalone when it comes to shellfish.
- Marron: You may know marron by their other names; yabbies and freshwater crayfish, and these crustaceans make for a sustainable choice due to the fact that the farms are smaller-scaled operations which are generally chemical-free.
- Sand whiting: This wild-caught fish is considered to have a healthy population, meaning they aren’t at risk of being overfished. The operations have low impact on surrounding and threatened species, making them a sustainable option.
- Wild-caught Salmon: Wild-caught Australian salmon is listed as a better choice, and this is because they have a low bycatch rate, meaning other species are less likely to get caught up accidentally. For more information on how to make sure you’re actually getting wild-caught salmon, not farmed, check out our guide here.
For those vegetarians, vegans and on-the-fencers out there, plant and algae-based options are another way to make sustainable dietary choices and protect fish populations and their habitats from destruction. Take a look at some nutritious options for the environmentally-conscious seafood lovers out there:
Algae oil: High in omega 3, this is a nutritious alternative to fish oil which still provides those healthy fats. Plus, it goes well in a salad dressing.
Seaweed: This form of algae – yep, turns out seaweed isn’t actually a plant – doesn’t require fresh water or fertiliser, and it absorbs carbon dioxide and expels oxygen. The result? A sustainable, environmentally-friendly seafood which is highly nutritious and quick to grow. Plus, this stuff isn’t just great with sushi, you can add it to salads and soups for extra flavour. Here are a few to look out for next time you hit the shops:
- Wakame: This type of seaweed goes well with miso soup.
- Kelp: This is the stuff you’ll find in your seaweed salad.
- Kombu: This is a flavoursome seaweed that works well in broths.
- Nori: The perfect accompaniment to homemade sushi.
- Irish moss: This is a great thickening agent for cooking, and it also works well in salad dressings as an oil component.
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