8. Fishing To Dishing




Let’s break down what it means to have seafood sustainably! We’ll be talking about sustainable fisheries, the debate between farming and catching, and the wackier ways that some people around the world catch their dinner!

Get ready for fishing trip!

Who doesn’t love a good plate of fish and chips? Or you may even be partial to a plate of some amazing sushi. If not, how does ceviche sound to you? We get a lot of different foods from the ocean and for almost 3 billion people on earth, sea food is their main source of protein. However, as fishing pressures increase as well as a myriad of other threats to the ocean. We need to start choosing seafood with the ocean’s long term health in mind. Sustainable seafood is seafood that's caught in ways that are responsible and from populations that keep up with demand. Get ready to dive deep, and prepare for a net full of facts about Ocean wise seafood!

Sources: https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/sustainable-seafood

Commercial Fishing Methods:

In order to fuel the ever increasing demands for seafood in today's interconnected world, fishing had to get smarter. We saw a huge leap in our collective fishing knowledge after WWII. Following the end of the war, the technology that allies and axis powers used against each other turned to the oceans. Sonar could now ping schools of fish from close distances, ships were faster, and nets became lighter with new polymers. We’ve seen a huge decline now in our ocean populations because of this.

A destructive way of fishing that was popular for a while was trawling. Bottom trawling is done with a huge net, with a height of up to three stories and as wide as a football field. This method can catch a lots of fish, and even bottom dwelling species like scallops and lobsters. Problem with it is that the nets are huge! They can catch a lot of unintended animals, or bycatch. These animals range from sea turtles up to dolphins and sharks.  

Another method of fishing is trolling. Quite different from the internet trolling! It involves a ship with multiple fishing lines and bait. The ship then moves forward and the lines trail behind it. Pelagic fish like salmon, kingfish, and patagonian toothfish are all examples of fish caught this way. This method is an example of a selective fishing method. With the right areas and the right bait, very few bycatch will be caught.

Sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/opinion/sunday/when-humans-declared-war-on-fish.html


To Farm or not to Farm?

Another solution to the declining populations in the ocean is to farm seafood. Just like how farming on land drastically changed our relation to the food system and local environment, aquaculture can have the same effect.

Farming our seafood can have lots of benefits. Having all the fish we want to eat in one place means that bycatch is more or less a non issue. We can make more fish faster, and with feed made from land animals. This will take off a significant amount of pressure from the world’s oceans, and hopefully allow fish stocks to recover. Farmed fish is also typically cheaper, meaning that healthy fish protein is available to those of varying or less stable economic backgrounds. Finally, the aquaculture of shellfish such as oysters and mussels can even clean up the local waters and provide habitat. Filter feeding animals like oysters filter out the gunk in the water and leave it cleaner, all the while providing nursery habitats for small fish and invertebrates

However, fish farms can also prove to be more trouble. The species of salmon farmed here in BC is usually Atlantic salmon. This is done because Atlantic salmon grows faster than the endemic pacific species. The problem that could arise is with escapes. If it escapes, then it may interfere with local food webs. Also, having thousands of fish together in a tight place is a great place to have diseases spread. These diseases could then easily spread to wild populations. Another problem is parasites. Having all those fish stuck in one place means that parasites can spread much easier among individuals.

Sources: https://bizfluent.com/list-6426179-fish-farming-advantages-disadvantages.html



So What is Ocean wise?

You may want to help the ocean, and still want to enjoy your salmon sushi. So is there a solution? Yes there is! Ocean wise!

The Ocean wise seafood program is run by people who look at four main criteria to determine whether or not a species is sustainable for the ocean. These four criteria are:

1. Abundant and resilient to fishing pressures.

2. Well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research.

3. Harvested in a method that ensures limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species.

4. Harvested in ways that limit damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species.

Species are updated often and fall into two classifications, Ocean wise and Not Recommended. So next time you’re in the grocery store looking for seafood or out to dinner, look for the Ocean wise option to do your part in helping the oceans!

Find more information about Ocean wise here: http://seafood.ocean.org/sustainable-seafood/

The Dish about Fishing:

Seafood is delicious and healthy. It supports a large portion of our planet’s population and we definitely need to protect it. We can’t let our oceans be fished dry and left barren all within the next few decades .That’s why we need to fish sustainable. We need to choose the right options, eat the right species, and teach others about sustainable seafood. All so we can see the ocean flourish and prosper.

Questions for your Jr.Biologists:

  1. Is there more than one way to catch seafood?

Heck yeah! There are a myriad of ways to catch different kinds species. Some yield more bycatch than others, while others are more selective. There’s trawling, trolling, dredging, long lining, pole and line, gill netting, and many more!  

2. What makes a species Ocean wise?

To be a sustainable catch, or an Ocean wise catch. The species needs to be a resilient population that can handle the pressure of fishing. The method of fishing also has to come with minimal bycatch and environmental damage. All of the research and management of the species must also be done by researchers who are working with the latest scientific information.

3. Will all the fish be gone in 50 years?

NO! If everyone does their part in choosing sustainable seafood and cleaning the oceans. There are certainly a lot of things threatening the ocean, but there are more and more people becoming aware of these threats. If everyone did their part, from the small to the big, we can make a difference for the ocean.

Do you have any questions for Club Volunteers or our Coordinator, Leo? Ask away on our Discussion Board!


Check out the ocean wise site and see where your favourite seafood sits


-Is your favourite restaurant serving it sustainable seafood?


Learning Objectives:

-Understand seafood is caught and produced

-Acknowledge the threats that impact certain species

-Learn how differing methods of fishing affect the environment

-Differentiate the differences between a bad fish farm and a good fish farm  

Continue to 9. Frogs Forever »