Saturday, January 26, 2008

Seafood Summit-prologue

Sitting in Seattle airport, waiting for the Air France nonstop to Paris, then on to Barcelona for Seafood Summit 2008. I'm to explain my views on how to fix unsustainable fisheries. You know, the ones you feel guilty about eating.

I've got an idea for you...don't "just say no" to unsustainable fisheries. Instead, get involved in fixing them.

It's more powerful than walking away, it's the right thing to do if we helped eat the fish into trouble, and it keeps people connected to the fish they love. OK, how's that for sustainable seafood heresy?

The prevailing model is to convince large seafood buyers and consumers to "just say no" to unsustainable seafood, with the idea that the invisible hand of the market will force fishermen to fish more sustainably. That kind of legerdemain would be nice, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting.

If it's yummy, then too many people want to buy it. Reducing demand is hard, and reducing demand enough to matter is really, really hard.

"Just say no" has been valuable in getting seafood sustainability on the table, and it's helped fix some fisheries. But we need to get more fisheries on the road to improvement and we especially need sustainability for more of our favorite fish.

Some unsustainable fisheries are being worked on by consrevationists, and all they lack is political clout to achieve the necessary reforms. Buyers engage! Support sustainable fishing with your influence. It's easier and more productive than avoiding your favorite (likely unsustainable) fish. All you have to lose is that guilty feeling you get when you eat unsustainable fish.


Miriam Goldstein said...

Just tell me how! Write to distributors or to politicians? I'll do anything for sweet, delicious, guilt-free shrimp.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's the "how" that's missing here. You need to make that step clear. Do that, and I'll spread the word.


Anonymous said...

...and what do we about those unsustainable fisheries that are say...truly unsustainable (i.e. those that target fish species/populations that really can't be fished sustainably? I think one legitimate concern about and need for the sustainable fisheries movement is to recognize that some species/populations really shouldn't be targeted.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what commercial or recreational fisheries cannot be fished in a sustainable manner? Does that mean we cannot remove a single fish? How about an amount less than the natural mortality rate?

Anonymous said...

and I wonder what commercial or recreational fishery we can limit to a single fish and how would we do that? In multi-species fisheries, there are a fair number of species that can not be sustainably fished. Questions have been raised regarding whether coral reef fisheries in general can be done sustainably.