Around the country and world, many of us remain in various stages of stay-at-home, but there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate our ocean and fish this summer by learning about sustainable fisheries and taking action to help ensure there are plenty of fish in the sea now and in the future.
Your choices at the grocery store, fish counter or restaurant can make a difference. If you eat seafood, take some time to learn about your favorite fish. Where does it come from? How is it caught? Is the fishery considered sustainable? If it isn’t sustainable, are there good alternatives out there? Does the fishery have issues with human rights abuses, slavery and illegal fishing?
1. Learn about sustainable seafood.
Asking these questions and becoming more informed are great first steps, but it can be tough to figure out what’s sustainable. Luckily, there are some great resources out there to help consumers find sustainable options. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch is a great resource in determining what is considered sustainable. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s FishWatch also offers background on domestic fish species and how they are managed. Fish and seafood products from fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) are also a good bet.
The United States has some of the best-managed fisheries in the world and uses strong, science-based measures that meet social, economic and environmental objectives. As a result, wild-caught American seafood tends to be a great option for sustainability. The United States’ fishing industry (including commercial and recreational fishing) is an economic engine for coastal communities that supports 1.7 million jobs and generates $212 billion in sales impacts. Right now, the industry has been hit hard by the economic turmoil associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted supply chains and closed restaurants.
2. Explore delicious domestic seafood options at home.
As a consumer, you can help by exploring wild-caught domestic seafood options that support U.S. fishermen and sustainable fisheries. Most seafood that Americans consume is eaten at restaurants rather than at home, but seafood is easy and delicious to cook! Many people are trying their hand at baking and testing new recipes during the pandemic. Why not try cooking a new seafood recipe at home? My current favorites are this recipe from Alison Roman, which I make with Alaska halibut and this recipe for fish tacos. Aside from fresh, frozen and canned items available at the grocery store, many fishermen are now also offering direct-to-consumer options that can make it easier to get sustainable seafood without leaving home. For example, look for community-supported fisheries, which sell to consumers and are similar to a CSA farm box.
Signing petitions and taking action online really does make a difference to help give the ocean a voice on Capitol Hill. You can play an important role sharing what you’d like to see with your members of Congress. Our petitions connect you with your representative and senators to join in and voice your support for healthy fisheries. One action you can take today is to encourage Congress to pass the Climate-Ready Fisheries Act of 2019, which will be the first step to prepare fisheries for the impacts of climate change. Or show your support for the New England Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. President Trump recently issued a Proclamation to lift all restrictions on commercial fishing in this public treasure and truly special undersea place—a decision that fails to address the real problems that fishermen currently face.
3. Take action for healthy fisheries.
During my time staying at home to flatten the curve, I’ve been missing the ocean more than ever. Even if a trip to the beach isn’t in the cards anytime soon, there are lots of ways to stay connected to the ocean and appreciate fish and their wild and wonderful ways of life. To feel immersed in the ocean without leaving home, try taking in an undersea scene from a live webcam of a California kelp forest, or of “Coral City” off of Miami. You can also learn about some of our favorite fish, from the humble anchovy to the massive whale shark, on Ocean Conservancy’s Wildlife Fact Sheets. If you want to learn more about how our fisheries are managed, check out our educational booklet and video about our key federal fisheries law.
4. Deepen your appreciation of fin-tastic fish
Healthy fish populations rely on an ecosystem with clean water and healthy habitat. Actions that are good for the ocean are also good for fish. Individually, we each can do our part to minimize plastic and other debris that ends up in the ocean by actions like reducing single-use plastic. And while there are many sources of pollution, we can limit fertilizers, pesticides, motor oil and other pollutants coming from our homes that end up in waterways. We can help support protection for habitats like seagrass beds, kelp forests and coral reefs.
5. Do your part to keep ocean waters healthy so fish can thrive.
At Ocean Conservancy, we know the threats facing our ocean are complex. And complex problems need creative solutions. That’s why we’re dedicated to bringing together scientists and policymakers around the world to tackle big problems like overfishing, ocean plastics, climate change and more.
6. Make a donation.
No matter the reasons why you think fish are great, you can be an advocate for fish and for sustainable fisheries with a gift to Ocean Conservancy today.
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