In recent years many more consumers have become aware of the need to be environmentally sustainable when buying fish. However, researching which species, and production methods, have the least impact on the environment often leads to murky waters.
Here is a concise summary of three of the best types of seafood that can be bought to shops and ultimately your plate in a sustainable fashion, helping maintain healthy ocean stocks for future generations. With up to 90% of fish species the world over suffering from the effects of overfishing, this has never been more important. These tips mainly apply to the UK, but seafood procurement practices are very similar all over the globe – or at least when it comes to industrial scale operations.
Oily Fish – South West Herring or Mackerel
Oily fish are not only extremely healthy as they are rich with Omega Acids and other important nutrients, but they are also much less intensive to catch or farm. Smaller oily fish also tend to travel in larger shoals, meaning they are lot easier to catch without dredging up other marine life by accident.
Traditionally popular fish like salmon are often higher-level predators, who eat a tonne of other small fish. In farms, this means they need a lot of fishmeal. Often, up to 3 tonnes of smaller fish to output just 1 tonne of salmon meat. Eating the smaller fish directly takes demand away from intensive salmon or cod farms. These farms also run the risk of being incubators for new diseases that then break out into wild stocks. The less demand for farmed salmon, the better for the environment.
Herbivorous Farmed Fish: Barramundi or Carp
Of course, any fish that doesn’t require fishmeal food at all is better. Fish such as Barramundi, which has a sweet and mild taste similar to see bass or red snapper, can be farmed in closed circuit tanks that require minimal intervention from farmers. Just put the fish and the algae or seaweed in at the start, and they manage themselves until they’re ready to be taken out and eaten. Farm-raised fish are generally less sustainable in the long run, but in the case of herbivorous freshwater fish – they’re not actually bad at all.
Oysters, Clams and Mussels
It’s almost impossible to buy wild clams, mussels or oysters in many places around the world. This is because farming them is actually self-sustainable and good for the environment. These shellfish help to clean the waters they are grown in, and also release nutrients that help sea plants grow – which in turn feed oily fish and in turn the bigger fish like salmon, tuna or cod. On top of that, they’re very healthy to eat. Considered an aphrodisiac in many cultures, clams and mussels contain high amounts of omega acids and vitamin D and are easy to cook (or even eat raw) in a variety of ways.