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Q: Seafood, Fish, Fishing, and Ecological Impact ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Seafood, Fish, Fishing, and Ecological Impact
Category: Science > Agriculture and Farming
Asked by: thomas_moth-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 12 Oct 2003 16:55 PDT
Expires: 11 Nov 2003 15:55 PST
Question ID: 265570
It's a pretty well-established fact that certain seafood is brought
from the ocean to the fish market with greater ecological consequences
than other.  Overfishing has reduced stocks substantially, and often
fishing techniques, such as using enormous nets, can wreak ecological
havoc on wide paths in the ocean.

On the other hand, there is some seafood that is fished responsibly;
sometimes successfully through farms that have minimal ecological
impact, sometimes by limiting the legal amounts that can be caught.

What I would appreciate would be a pretty comprehensive list of common
fish and seafood products and the ecological impact of consuming them,
from minimal / nominal to extreme.  More common fish and seafood -
trout, salmon, tilapia, swordfish, etc. - is more important than the
more obscure ones - monkfish, etc.  Also, if there is a difference
between farm-raised and wild caught, in terms of ecological impact, I
would like to know the case on both.

There were a number articles in the NYT "Science Times" section, if
I'm not mistaken, a few months ago that dealt with this topic.  If you
can track this down, it would probably be helpful; there was even a
list of common seafood and fish that is part of what I want.

However, the reason I ask here is because I would like even more
extensive information; you don't need to paraphrase in your response,
but if you could provide links as to WHY fishing for certain fish and
seafood is less ecologically harmful than fishing for others, that
would be greatly appreciated.

So in summary, I'm looking for:
a) A list of common fish and seafood eaten and relative ratings as to
how responsibly they are fished
b) Links to more in-depth information about specific impacts of
fishing for specific fish and seafood

Subject: Re: Seafood, Fish, Fishing, and Ecological Impact
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 12 Oct 2003 17:31 PDT
Hello Thomas,

This is an issue dear to my own heart (I'm a marine biologist) and one
that I take seriously in my personal life as well. So thanks for
giving me the opportunity to answer your important question.

You need to link to the National Audubon Society's Living Oceans
campaign, and their wonderful "Seafood Lovers Guide" which you can
find here:

First thing you'll probably want to do is check out (and then print
out) the National Seafood Wallet Card, which gives you "red light,
yellow light, green light" signals for all the major types of seafood
you're likely to come across.  The Seafood Card is here:

"Consult any of these when you go to restaurants or markets with fish
on your mind. Your seafood choices can help make our oceans healthy

Here's a backgrounder page with a bit more detail on how Audubon
ranked the different seafood species, and summaries of the ecological
impacts on major seafood species:

Hungry for swordfish?  Here's what the background page has to say:

"Swordfish mature when they're about six years old, and they occur
throughout tropical, subtropical, and circumtropical waters. In the
Pacific, it is unknown how abundant swordfish actually are, and there
is no Pacific-wide management for swordfish. In the Atlantic, while
there is international management in place for swordfish, the
population has been declining since the 1950s. The Atlantic population
is clearly unhealthy, with fewer females and fewer older fish in the
population. There is a rebuilding plan in place for Atlantic
swordfish, but the allowable catch remains too high to actually enable
the population to recover. Globally, most swordfish are caught on
longlines, which have major problems with bycatch, including sharks
and endangered sea turtles. Due to inadequate management over a major
portion of this species' range, bycatch issues, and the poor status of
Atlantic swordfish, swordfish overall rank in the red on the Audubon
Fish Scale."

Want to dig even deeper?  Then head to:

where fish and other seafoods are listed on the left-hand side of the
page, each one clickable to an in-depth overview.  For instance, the
first fish listed is Wild Alaska Salmon, and clicking on it takes you

where you'll find that the Alaska Salmon get a green light (a green
fish, actually) for the reason:

"Populations in Alaska are healthy. This is not the case off the
Pacific Northwest or in the Atlantic, where salmon are depleted."

There's a full page of additional information there as well.

And finally, to go deeper still, get hold of the Seafood Lover's
Almanac, which is described at:

"Featuring whimsical paintings by Robert Shetterly and exquisite
watercolor illustrations by Charlotte Knox, Seafood Lover's Almanac
combines beautiful art and graphics with information about the trail
of seafood. Covers the natural and sometimes eccentric lives of fish
and shellfish, nutrition and health benefits of seafood, how specific
fish are caught or farmed, alternative choices to species in trouble,
and recipes."


Ordinarily, I would steer a question like yours to several different
sites.  However, I'm personally familiar with the Audubon work, and it
just seems so on the money for what you're after, that I'm sure it
will meet your needs, and then some.

However, if you feel you would like additional information on this
topic, please...just let me know by posting a Request for
Clarification, and I'll be happy to help you out however I can.

Stay green...happy eating!


search strategy:  None.  Went to the Audubon site and found the
seafood page.
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