Seafood Watch Program and Guides
I used to be part of a program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and while there I would always be talking about Seafood Watch Guides. For seafood, there are lots of variables such as fishing practices which make supporting sustainable seafood much easier than supporting sustainable beef or pork (99% of America’s meat comes from factory farms). That said, it’s really hard to find out exactly which seafood to stay away from and which to buy. Certain types of seafood are almost always sustainably caught, while others vary widely. I don’t know too much about specifics, but I’ve heard filter-feeders like scallops are usually energy-efficient because they can filter food directly out of the water and therefore do not need to be fed wastefully. Farmed salmon, on the other hand, are usually very harmful to the coastline because they require many antibiotics and produce a lot of waste which is toxic to animals living in the surrounding water. For a guide which you can take to the supermarket or where ever you go check out http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx There is also an app for iPhones or android, making it super convenient to carry around. The Seafood Watch Guide is a great success story for me, because I’ve seen it mentioned at the farmers’ market and at my school’s cafeteria. I think it shows how many people can find a connection between their food and the environment once it becomes more convenient apparent. Also, I think it’s a great sign that manufacturers are starting to advertise something like “Best Choice on Seafood Watch Guide” because they know many people are starting to care. The guide is very simple and has 3 different columns that list seafoods that are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and those to “Avoid.” To learn about the program and recent news in seafood and the fishing industry, click on the title “Seafood Watch Program and Guides.” I think it is easy to generalize and say that farmed fish are great for the environment or tuna are always caught in ways that cause lots of bycatch, but this guide keeps us thinking and stops us from taking the easy way out and just buying the cheapest thing. I’m always thinking about how I boycott factory-farmed meat, but never really support family-farmed meat. It makes me very sad to think that I have to avoid meat completely because most of it is produced cruelly and wastefully. This guide gives us a chance to support what is right rather than just avoiding what is wrong. It empowers and educates the consumer. That said, we are of course placing a lot of power in this guide. While I think that Monterey Bay Aquarium is always researching and finding out new things, I also think it is important to question and stay up-to-date. Even though the truth of the meat industry has made me skeptical, I place my confidence in the aquarium’s research and information, especially because I know they are an agency with a goal to protect the oceans.
Here is a video I made for biology class about the affect of cattle and fishing on the environment. I made it a while a go and there are a few inaccuracies and generalizations, but I stay true to the overall message. When I say that 99% of animals come from factory farms “like this one,” the footage actually comes from a slaughterhouse, at a separate location from the farms where the cattle lived.
My goal with this video was to show how our diet affects the earth and connect our choices to a greater global impact, while supporting my position with statistics and pictures. I tried to reveal the cruel practices and facts in a way that people could understand on both a logical and emotional level. I hope that you can find a new piece of information or footage that means something to you and stays with you.
I think a lot of people overlook fish as a globally impactful part of our diet. Fish are often times even further from our consideration than cattle or other farm animals, but their effect on the environment is no less. Fishing is a vital part of our modern food industry because fish and sea creatures are in fact the last wild animal hunted on a commercial level. By choosing which fish to eat, we support a movement towards sustainability, just like choosing local produce. As often is the case with the cattle industry, companies are often secretive or misleading in their claims. To me, education is again an important factor; we should learn about where our fish really come from and what was wasted, killed, or destroyed along the way. That way, we can make decisions on what we know and feel, rather than on what is commonly believed or claimed. Here is a very interesting look at different fishing practices and sources; the story follows the author as he searches for an honest meal, questioning and learning along the way. http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/the-new-school-of-fish