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Sustainability in Seafood: The Quest for a Greener Future

Seafood is one of the most widely enjoyed delicacies in the world. As more consumers gravitate away from red meat or plant-based alternatives, many are turning to the pescatarian diet for protein and nourishment. According to NOAA, levels of seafood consumption are the highest seen since 2007 in 2018 and beyond - with consumption per person totaling an average of 16.1 pounds per person.

Half of this consumption is estimated to be live-caught or fresh seafood consumption. In this post, we explore what sustainable seafood is, why this can benefit the environment, and implementation tips for practices associated with sustainable seafood harvesting and consumption. 

What is seafood sustainability? 

The concept of sustainability is rooted in balanced consumption. While many think that sustainability is grounded in restriction and conservation, this is a common misconception. Seafood will always be consumed. However, there are methods that we can implement changes to consumer habits that will help us to consume responsibly. This thought process is what has birthed the idea of seafood sustainability, which has become an increasingly relevant topic as we collectively continue to fight against climate change and species extinction. 

How does seafood sustainability benefit the environment? 

The consumption of seafood does much to benefit the environment compared to other protein sources. Fish are considered to be a low-carbon product, which stands in stark contrast to protein sources such as beef or poultry. However, levels of consumption that are steadily on the rise can pose several significant risks to our oceans and the ecology beneath the surface. We’ve identified three main possible risks of overconsumption that can affect not just you as the consumer, but the environment and the world that we live in. 

Ecological dysfunction 

The ocean has a circle of life, just as there is above the surface. If humans consume heavy amounts of a specific type of seafood, this could lead to problems going up the food chain. The next level will not have food to feed on, which could lead to the extinction of that level of the chain. The ripple effect would carry until the dysfunction would be too great to sustain life, in theory. 

Species extinction 

While this risk is heightened by dysfunction alone, higher demand can lead to over-fishing of certain areas in order to get the quantity needed to satiate demand. Species extinction isn’t just a risk that can be overlooked. Patterns of extinction are not something that is easily overlooked. If one population is overfished, you may find other effects showing themselves in the loss of more vulnerable populations of sea life. 

Long-term economic effect 

While overfishing may seem like a lucrative prospect in the current moment, the long-term economic effects of this ongoing practice can be devastating. For example, there may be a global undercurrent of economic insufficiency once the populations run too low to harvest - or go out of harvesting range altogether due to extinction. Fishermen will have to find new professions, seafood companies will go out of business, and the world will have lost an entire segment of possible food sources to address the global demand for food. 

Sustainable fishing practices can benefit the environment and can help to pace demand and fishing practices to work in tandem with the natural patterns of reproduction and lifecycle of in-demand seafood. Beyond this, there are also the added benefits of: 

  • Protecting the local sea life and the natural food chain 
  • Avoiding food waste by utilizing all parts of the fish 
  • Generating more jobs in a more responsible way 
  • Reducing the overall rate of pollution in the environment 

While these benefits are arguably the common goal of our humanity as we fight against climate change, they can only be goals until a plan can be created for ideal implementation. 

Sustainable practice implementation 

There is ultimately confusion when it comes to implementing sustainable practices. For example, many may believe that naturally wild-caught delicacies are more sustainable than the controlled, farm-raised specimens. While this is not the only consideration, it is misinformation such as this that can lead to inaccurate purchasing decisions that can greatly affect the local populations of fish. For that reason, information and customer education is paramount. Outreach will be key to spreading awareness about what sustainability looks like when it comes to seafood. 

Additional considerations include consistency and awareness of staff members at every level of the distribution chain - beginning with the fisheries. Information is power, and this is especially true when it comes to the sustainable implementation of these types of initiatives. 

Inecta’s proprietary software allows fisheries to have a high-level overview of the function of vessels and departments at all times, preventing overfishing and encouraging an attitude of transparency and accountability at every point in the process. 

Foreman and operations managers will also be able to ensure that there is adherence to compliance standards at every point, in order to ensure the same quality and process flow that the line of work demands. For more information about how Inecta can support your fishery or production plant, you can visit our website or give us a call today at 1-800-632-0573.


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