Sustainable lifestyles put the planet’s health before your convenience, but it isn’t always easy to find ways around environmentally harmful practices. When you’re craving shrimp and grits or lobster mac and cheese, how do you know that you’re purchasing seafood responsibly? Check out how to avoid consumer confusion about sustainable seafood so you can enjoy your favorite dishes without worrying about their environmental impact.
What Is Sustainable Seafood?
Oceans are vast bodies of water holding millions of aquatic sea animals. What’s the harm in buying a can of tuna when there are countless others still swimming in the sea? Although people might picture fishing poles and creaking ships when they think of the seafood industry, the practices that catch and sell oceanic wildlife are much more harmful to the planet than people realize.
Sustainable seafood is seafood produced without any harmful practices that keep fish populations from maintaining healthy levels or pollute waterways. Eco-friendly companies will pledge to align with green consumer standards that seafood shouldn’t harm other animals, depopulate oceans or contribute to global warming.
Why Does Sustainability Matter?
People can understand why sustainable seafood matters by learning about the harmful practices that companies should avoid. There are four main ways that the fishing industry disrupts the aquatic food chain and hurts the planet.
Aquafarms feed fish with smaller fish, removing twice as much wildlife from the ocean. They also dump toxic waters containing feces, parasites and pesticides into the sea after harvesting their fish. Even though the fish grow in contained environments, they still suffer from disease and poor diets that result in mass water dumping.
Bottom trawling and longline fishing also hurt the planet. They capture any wildlife in their path, including endangered or at-risk species. These bycatch animals often go back into the ocean with injuries caused by their entrapment and die if the crew members don’t kill them first.
If these practices go unchecked, they’ll continue decimating entire species and polluting the oceans. The fishing industry can harm many more animals than the ones they intend to catch and contribute to climate change made worse by pollution.
How to Find Sustainable Products
The best way to learn how to avoid consumer confusion about sustainable seafood is to use the following tips to deep-dive into your grocery list.
Research Your Favorite Products
It’s always wise to research a brand before you buy something. Consider your favorite seafood products and look into which companies produce them. They’ll either mention their sustainability practices on their website or have news articles feature their efforts.
A sustainable lobster company will mention how they follow legal sizing limits to avoid catching young lobsters necessary for population growth. A fishing company could describe how they avoid net trawling or meticulously maintain their modestly sized fish farm tanks. If a company isn’t upfront with the specific actions it takes to become more eco-friendly, it may only want to appear sustainable without putting in the work.
Check National or Food-Specific Guides
Regulations for sustainable seafood change in differing locations and for separate species. Experts put together guides so consumers can learn more about their purchases depending on the dish they want to make or where they buy from. A quick read on your most frequent purchases will show you what sustainable efforts are most important for the seafood you enjoy.
Support Local Fishing Companies
People who go green often support local companies. You can do the same thing with your seafood choices. Local fisheries catch smaller amounts of wildlife, produce less pollution and don’t need to burn extravagant quantities of fossil fuel because they sell everything right down the road. If research reveals a local company that uses green fishing practices, they’ll be another excellent choice for your sustainable lifestyle.
Avoid Confusion About Sustainable Seafood
Many companies want to get on board with the ever-growing eco-friendly consumer trend, but that doesn’t mean they all make the planet a better place for people and aquatic wildlife. Use these tips to avoid consumer confusion about sustainable seafood and trust that every purchase is as great for the planet as it is for your diet.