When making choices for dinner, these days more and more people are adding another criteria to the usual ones of tasty, nutritious and low-calorie: sustainable. We all know fish meets the first three… But when it comes to sustainability, here are two species you definitely want to bypass at the fish counter.
Here are some foods you should forgo:
Bluefin tuna has been commercially fished since ancient times. Today, it is a common menu item, served as steak or raw as sushi or sashimi. Unfortunately, bluefin tuna have become so popular that they are being overfished. That is, fishermen aren’t leaving enough bluefin tuna in the water to replenish stocks.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, which manages Atlantic and Mediterranean populations, sets fishing quotas every year, aiming to keep the bluefin out of trouble.
But many scientists and conservation groups say that the quotas are too high and some have even lampooned the group, dubbing it the International Commission to Catch All Tuna.
While a giant bluefin tuna (sold for $396,000 at the Tsukiji fish market in Japan) was breaking the record for the highest price ever paid for a single bluefin, the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration kicked off a public comment period on the bluefin. The public comment period is a step toward listing bluefin under the Endangered Species Act. So help may soon be on the way. But for now, you should consider putting the chopsticks down.
Another concern for conservation groups is shark finning, where fisherman chop only the fins off of (often still living) sharks, then toss rest back into the ocean. The fins are sold in parts of Asia, where shark fin soup is a very popular delicacy. Lisa Ling reported for CNN that the “soup is a delicacy reserved for the wealthy on special occasions … [but with] an unprecedented number of people making more money than ever, the demand for all things that signal an improvement in status is gargantuan.”
Luckily, as Reuters reports, some young Asians are choosing to forgo these endangered delicacies in favor of more sustainable options.
How You Can Help
Choose only sustainable seafood! You can learn more about threats to tuna, sharks and other marine species, and explore what fish species are caught sustainably, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Program.