Thursday, September 21, 2006

What is sustainable fishing?

Is it ok to eat Chilean seabass again? Sustainably harvested Patagonian toothfish (aka Chilean seabass) will soon be sold in Whole Foods Markets. The Marine Stewardship Council has identified a small south ocean fishery as sustainable, and Whole Foods will jump back into the sustainable Chilean seabass market.

Hmm....so is it ok to eat Chilean seabass again? Or should all Chilean seabass be vilified since much is caught illegally and overfishing is a problem elsewhere?

How about the broader question, should we buy and eat fish if catching practices are good? Or should we hold out and buy fish only if methods are perfect?

Interesting questions to debate, and Blogfish is coincidentally ensconced in London talking with Marine Stewardship Council staff and others about the vexing question: "What is sustainable fishing?" and "how will we know sustainable fishing when we see it?"

It would be quite nice to stand on a soapbox and shout out about ideals and ideology, and what is perfectly sustainable, but I have a great fear that nobody would be listening. Instead, we might find a bigger audience if we identify the best of the bunch in the fishmonger's icebox.

Either way, Blogfish is finding it difficult to remember to look right when crossing the street here...just goes to show that comfortable perspectives can mislead.

1 comment:

SC Sustainable said...

I completely support what Whole Foods and the MSC have done regarding Chilean sea bass. The MSC certified the fishery as sustainable after a rigorous assessment and upheld their certification after objections were filed by conservation groups. This fishery has been scientifically show to be a distinct breeding population and the geographic scope of the population is within the highly patrolled territorial waters of the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. Enforcement is strict and conservation measures are maintaining a sustainable population. The certified Chain of Custody that has been established to bring MSC certified Chilean sea bass to Whole Foods will keep illegally harvested fish out. If we as conservationists don't support this economic support of a sustainable fishery why would other countries be motivated to move towards a sustainable fishery by stepping up enforcement and instituting conservation measures?