In 2009, Loblaw, the country's largest seller of seafood, made a commitment that they'll only sell sustainable seafood by the end of 2013. They're currently working with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to meet this target.
I recently spoke with Melanie Agopian, Loblaw's senior director of seafood sustainability and Alexis Williams, a registered dietitian with the company and they offered me five good reasons why everyone should aim to eat sustainably when it comes to seafood.
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1. Our demand for seafood is taking its toll.
According to Loblaw, there has been such a decline in the amount of fish in our ocean that one third of the world’s commercial fisheries have collapsed and a significant number of fish species are in danger. There are serious issues with overfishing, bycatch (when other species, including turtles, dolphins and birds, are unintentionally caught in nets), environmental degradation caused by farmed fishing, and the use of gear detrimental to marine habitats.
2. We need better practices when it comes to sourcing seafood.
"Sustainable" sourcing means two things: that the fish have been caught in a way that ensures they can regenerate their stocks and that the method used doesn't harm their environment. When it comes to measuring sustainability, Loblaw uses the non-profit MSC. (Though it's worth noting that in 2011 the MSC was faced with questions about just how trustworthy their stamp of sustainability actually is. Regardless, Greenpeace has praised Loblaw's efforts.)
3. Some species are already in danger.
Loblaw has already stopped selling, at least temporarily, a set of species that they've identified as in a critical state: shark, skate, Chilean sea bass, orange roughy and American red snapper.
4. It's best to eat with a cleaner conscience.
If you want to eat fish, but aren't sure where to start, Loblaw offers sustainable options like Pacific salmon, cod, halibut and Albacore tuna.Visit MSC's website for a full list of sustainable seafood.
5. Fish is an important part of your diet.
The recommendation from Canada's food guide is two servings of 75 grams each a week. And, as Williams notes, there are a lot of health benefits. Fish is a lean protein with healthy fats, vitamins and minerals (like B12), calcium and zinc. Fish is also a low-calorie source of protein.
While there might not be much of a nutritional difference between eating sustainable and non-sustainable seafood, sticking with sustainable options improves the odds that we'll have seafood stocks in the future.
For more information, check out Loblaw's Oceans for Tomorrow website.
Do you currently buy sustainable seafood?
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