Akhila is a Justmeans staff writer for CSR and ethical consumption. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she i...
Ethical consumption: How to choose sustainable seafood
No other phenomenon demonstrates the tragedy of commons better than the mismanagement of world's oceans. According to the FAO global fish consumption is set to grow at least 2% per year. But this increase in consumption patterns cannot be supported for very long in the face of depleting fish stocks.
The loss of biodiversity should be a genuine worry for anyone who is interested in practicing sustainable living. The first resource in the hunt for sustainable seafood should be the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch programme that publishes a guide that is well worth a look.
The bluefin tuna and other popular species are threatened due to the increase in popularity of sushi and its subsequent spread to the Western world. So before you dig into your sushi, check where the seafood comes from. A San Diego based American Albacore Fishing Association is the first sustainable tuna fishery to be officially certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an independent non-profit organization that promote environmental awareness in an industry plagued by overfishing and accidental bycatch.
The MSC is a barometer of sustainable seafood as the organization tries to use stringent methods in order to certify fisheries. Retailers and consumers can do a lot to support sustainable fishing and this is something that MSC galvanizes on. Their mission is to use ecolabeling and fishery certification programme to contribute to the health of the world's oceans by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing practices.
According to a 2008 Greenpeace report titled "Retailers Role in Supporting the World's Favourite Fish" there are certain ethical sourcing guidelines that they can follow. UK supermarket chain Marks and Spencers stated that it would only source pole & line or line-caught tuna for its fresh foods from sandwiches to fresh steaks. By the end of 2009, they hope to source only pole and line-caught fish for its canned tuna. Sainsbury, Co-op and Marks & Spencer came top according to the report. Princes and John West, most of whose tuna was from purse seiners came bottom.
Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington is encouraging ethical consumerism by making moves to source supply from sustainable fisheries. Delhaize America which operates more than 1,600 supermarkets in the US under the Hannaford, Sweetbay, Bottom Dollar Food, and Food Lion banners, announced that it would operate under a new sustainable seafood sourcing program. McDonald's is trying to go green with its Fillet-o-Fish sandwich and requires fisheries to meet minimum standards on reporting practices, the environmental impact of their harvesting practices and the amount of fish the fishery leaves to replenish the population. Wal-Mart has introduced MSC labelling on ten of its fish products in stores across the US and has plans to sustainably source its entire range.
Greenpeace is calling for 40% of the world's oceans to be protected as marine reserves. Some progress was made when Pacific Island Nations declared that areas in the Pacific Commons - high seas between the islands with marine life - should be off limits to fishing. Making the fishery industry sustainable is critical not only to the environment, but also to our economic future.