Lynne Zeitlin Hale is director of the Conservancy’s Global Marine Team.
I’m a marine conservationist who loves to eat seafood. That’s why I’m a believer in the value of consumer seafood guides. And that’s why I’m always pleased whenever I see people pulling out a seafood wallet card. It’s strong evidence that people care about marine ecosystems, they want to do something to help, and they are willing to change their behavior. While I recognize that some people are getting fatigued with consumer advice about how to live green, I for one think it’s great that people are getting educated about healthy choices for their diets and for the ocean.
There is also much evidence to show that, over time, the accumulation of millions of good choices are affecting both markets and fishermen’s strategies in ways that move us towards more sustainable fisheries. Perhaps even more importantly, despite the uncomfortable or guilty moments that sustainable seafood guides being pulled out at dinner can provoke, the efforts of groups like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute are cultivating a new ocean ethic and a new generation of savvy consumers and marine conservationists
At the same time, there is no “silver bullet” that will make fisheries sustainable. Consumer choice programs need to be complemented with other strategies like direct engagement with fishermen, fishery managers and elected officials to end unsustainable fishing. We need all hands on deck and a wide range of programs if we are to move towards a future with sustainable fisheries and great choices for seafood on the menu.
(Image: Schooling jacks (Carangidae sp.) in the waters of the Solomon Islands. Credit: Daniel and Robbie Wisdom.)