Take heed, pescetarians

The Feast

Photo by Flickr user Renée S. Suen, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alistair Bland had a great post at NPR yesterday, highlighting a number of the problematic ways that some marine species are caught. As he notes,

If sustainability is a top priority when you’re shopping at the fish counter, wild-caught seafood can be fraught with ethical complications.

One major reason why: bycatch, or the untargeted marine life captured accidentally by fishermen and, often, discarded dead in heaps. It’s one of the most problematic aspects of industrial fishing.

For example,

Tuna fishermen don’t only catch tuna. In fact, they mostly don’t catch tuna — especially when they use long lines rigged with hundreds of baited hooks. A recent commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization found that tuna fishermen hauled in 750,000 tons of tuna and 828,000 tons of non-tuna creatures per year in the mid-2000s. In some regions, a quarter of the total catch is sharks, according to a published in 2007. Many sharks are thrown back dead — including 20,000 tons of blue sharks annually in the North Atlantic, as in the Marine Ecology Progress Series.

For each aquatic animal he discusses, he offers suggestions for good alternatives. For tuna, the alternatives are

Pole-caught tuna, often yellowfin and albacore. As with other species, finding these alternatives may be a matter of chatting it up with those selling the fish.

Check out the full post here. You’ll come away informed and prepared to make better choices at the market and when dining out.


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