What Is Sustainable Fishing and How Can You Make a Difference?
More fish is consumed per person now than ever before. The growing awareness of the health benefits of seafood adds to higher levels of fish consumption. At the same time, the human population is increasing faster than the wild-caught fish can breed and grow. Sustainable fishing is part of the solution. The other part is the consumer’s demand for environmentally friendly fishing practices.
What is Sustainable Fishing?
The National Geographic Encyclopaedia’s entry on the topic explains sustainable fishing as a way of fishing that ensures there will be populations of the various species in the ocean and wildlife for future generations. According to the entry, more than 77 billion kg of marine life is removed annually.
If we don’t stop right now and change how we manage fisheries and which practices we support, then in a few decades from now people will no longer have the option of seafood on the menu.
What Happens with Overfishing?
It is the practice of removing wildlife from the ocean faster than the specific species can reproduce. Not managing the by-catch causes the species that swim alongside the targeted fish species to also decline in numbers. From turtles to birds, seals and dolphin populations can dwindle as the result of poor control and management of by-catch.
How Is the Problem Addressed?
Sustainable fishing addresses the problems of overfishing and uncontrolled by-catch. It also entails having measures in place to maintain and increase fish stocks. It is not possible for one company or institution to manage fish stocks. It takes a concerted effort from the government, the department tasked with marine protection, international eco-label and third-party certification bodies, and national and industry initiatives to manage seafood stocks. From the local communities to the large fish trawling groups need to work together to ensure healthy stocks of specific fish species.
Fisheries must be managed in terms of fleet size, the number of fish that can be caught, the season in which specific species can be caught, and more. Management and control mechanisms should be established to regulate the fisheries. Eco-labelling and fishery assessments for the certification of sustainable practices, and partnerships between industry regulators, universities, and the various fisheries contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources.
The fisheries management must base its industry regulations on scientific research. Data must be collected regarding the habitats, migration, breeding and feeding patterns of the various sea life. Through such efforts, it is possible to increase or maintain sea life populations.
How It Affects Food Choices
Informed choices are essential. It is essential to keep the fisheries accountable for maintaining fish stocks. It is just as important to use the tools and guidelines available to identify sea life that is endangered and overfished. Finally, the consumer supports the protection of natural resources when buying fish from a fishery that follows sustainable practices. SASSI provides guidelines to help consumers identify which species are endangered and which ones are good food choices. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue label for fisheries that meet their certification requirements can also be used to identify sustainable fish produce.
Sea Harvest and Sustainable Fishing
When you buy Sea Harvest products, you support a company committed to responsible environmental practices. The company has received recognition for its commitment from the Prince Charles Sustainability Trust and follows a comprehensive model that includes environmental, governance and social accountability.
As a leading fishing company in South Africa that operates within the wild-caught fisheries industry, Sea Harvest commits to compliance regarding catch limits, protection of fish resources and minimising by-catch. This is evident in the firm’s use of tori lines to scare away birds and thereby limit the risk of the birds getting caught up in the gear.
The company commits to protect non-target fish species, including the likes of Kingklip. In addition, the firm complies with the various environmental permit requirements. The risk of plastic and waste being blown into the sea during fishing operations is managed through a policy of containing plastics and waste on the vessels to dispose of in the regulatory compliant manner. A high percentage of the waste products are recycled, helping to minimise landfills while the recycling projects help with job creation. The commitment to environmentally sound practices extends to include lowering carbon emissions and minimising the risk of water pollution.
How You Can Make a Difference
When you buy Cape Hake from the Sea Harvest brand you support a firm committed to sustainable fishing. Make the right food choice to help maintain fish stocks and South African marine resources. Buy Sea Harvest Cape Hake.