Choosing Sustainable Fish: Whose Responsiblity Is It?

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Published on October 8th, 2009  |  Discuss This Article  


In a recent New York Times blog, Mark Bittman points to a U.K. survey that says 90 percent of diners want sustainable fish on restaurant menus and claim they’re willing to put their money where their mouths are — but most of those people don’t currently choose fish from sustainable sources.

So it must be the merchants’ fault, right? If restaurants and grocery stores offered more sustainable options and helped their customers navigate the complex web of options, we’d all embrace Maine shrimp and say no to Chilean sea bass…wouldn’t we?

Others say the onus should be on fishermen to change their practices, improve their gear, abandon old behaviors and forge a new reality. But isn’t it unrealistic to expect them to foot the bill for changes that will mean putting their livelihoods on the line — especially as long as regulations continue to encourage overfishing and discourage good stewardship?

And what about depressed prices? To truly make a difference, don’t we need to overhaul how fish are brought to market and transform consumer values?

When it comes to sustainable fish, there’s plenty of finger pointing and few clear answers. But in the small community of Port Clyde, Maine, several different players — including fishermen, their families, consumers and conservationists — have stepped up to make some big changes.

You’ve heard of community-supported agriculture (CSA), but here’s a new twist: a community-supported fishery. Check it out.

(Image: fresh catch at the Port Clyde, Maine, farmers market. Source: Sean Fitzpatrick/TNC.)

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Comments: Choosing Sustainable Fish: Whose Responsiblity Is It?

  •  Comment from fishSNORKEL

    Lets ask the fish. They’re the ones who are being harvested after all. Honestly, how on earth is it OK to kill some fish but not others? Surely, death is either right or wrong, not right and wrong at the same time.

  •  Comment from Julie

    Here’s a good resource for making choices when you shop or dine – convenient pocket guides from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch:

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