Article contributed by The Green Restaurant Association
Fisheries are expected to collapse by 2050 if we do not start to consume sustainable seafood.
This potential collapse is being caused by a variety of issues such as overfishing, bycatch, and poor fisheries management. This has caused 57% of the fish species to be fully exploited, meaning the fish are being caught at the same rate of reproduction and any further increase will lead to overfishing. For our oceans to recover, it’s important that everyone, especially restaurant decision-makers, commit to making more sustainable seafood choices. (Here’s a great video about different fishing methods, farmed fish vs. wild fish, and how to support sustainable fisheries.)
So, what can restaurants do?
1. Source sustainable seafood
If we don’t start supporting sustainable fisheries, soon we won’t have any fish left on the menu. There are great programs that will help you find sustainable seafood for your restaurant, such as Seafood Watch, Marine Stewardship Council, and FishChoice. These websites allow you to search fisheries and species to see if they are sustainable. Although sustainable seafood occasionally comes at a higher cost, 74% of consumers support the consumption of sustainable seafood and more than half say they are willing to pay more for it. The Green Restaurant Association can also help its restaurants source sustainable seafood options.
Certified Green Restaurant® Sustainable Seafood Success Story: The Sustainable Restaurant Group has five Certified Green Restaurant® locations that are committed to purchasing sustainable seafood. Their Bamboo Sushi locations are also certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. At their newest location, Quickfish Poke Bar, over 50% of their seafood is considered sustainable, and they serve no red-listed seafood.
2. Serve invasive species and “trash fish”
Invasive species are species that are not native to specific ecosystem, and often spread, causing damage to the environment. There are many invasive fish in our oceans, and by consuming these fish, we could have an impact on the population size. Lion Fish is an invasive species found in the Atlantic Ocean and are considered a “Best Choice” by Seafood Watch.
More than half of all U.S. seafood consumption comes from only three fish: shrimp, canned tuna, and salmon. But there are more choices available to us, that are both delicious and much more sustainable. Fish that were previously considered undesirable because of the lack of demand were given the name “trash fish”, but some chefs are now incorporating these into their menus. By choosing these fish over their more desirable counterparts, it could be a lifesaver to those that are currently in danger. Some good trash fish options include: whiting, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines.
Not only do some invasive and “trash fish” taste great, but 88% of American consumers are willing to pay more for seafood that is certified as sustainably and responsibly sourced.
3. Inform your customers about what type of fish you’re serving.
If you’re serving sustainable seafood, your customers want to know. Tell stories about your seafood, where they came from, how they were caught, etc. This will raise awareness of sustainable fisheries and also let your customers know about the good work you’re doing.
Tips for consumers:
- Dine at a Certified Green Restaurant® that serves sustainable seafood
- Encourage your local restaurants to serve sustainable seafood
- Check out org or the Seafood Watch app to learn more about sustainable fish & what fish to purchase