What is sustainable seafood?
Sustainable seafood can be wild-caught or farm raised, but must be harvested with care to maintain stable catch levels in the long-term without major harm to the environment and other sea life.
Various aspects of the fishery are considered when evaluating its sustainability:
- Are harvest levels monitored? Many fisheries are still not properly monitored to be able to calculate what the true harvest levels are.
- Are harvest levels low enough that fish populations will survive over the short and long-term?
- Is any harm done to the fish's habitat, such as alteration of the seafloor?
- Are large proportions of non-target species (bycatch) killed in the process?
- Many fish are shipped long distances, requiring a lot of energy and packaging to transport the catch. What is the carbon footprint of the fishery?
There are also several criteria specific to fish farms (aquaculture):
- What is the food source for the farmed fish? Are the farmed fish fed wild fish that are caught unsustainably?
- Does the farm create significant amounts pollution and other water quality impacts on the area around the farm?
- Does the farm minimize risk of spreading disease or genetic contamination to wild populations?