By Isaac Hopkins
According to a 2010 Food and Agriculture Organization report, 33 percent of the world’s fisheries are over-exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion, and another 52 percent are fully exploited. As more fish stocks fail under the pressure, many fisherpeople, fishery managers, and policymakers are focusing on making fishing more sustainable, using methods that have proven effective at restoring both quantity and quality in depleted fisheries.
Fish market outside Banjul in The Gambia. Fish is a crucial food for billions of people, but many fish stocks are threatened due to overfishing. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)
Just as importantly, consumers should be conscious of the dietary and ecological impacts of the seafood that they eat. Resources like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a National Geographic Seafood Guide, designed by Barton Seaver, make it easier than ever for seafood lovers to choose fish that are healthy for people and for the planet.
Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five fisheries that have benefited from sustainable management and are improving the outlook for fisherfolk and ecosystems.
1. Mackerel: Mackerel is a broad term that can refer to more than thirty species of moderate-sized fish that are abundant in temperate and tropical oceans around the world. Their flesh is generally oily and high in fat, and they are prized not just by fishermen, but also by many larger fish, as well as dolphins and whales.
Mackerel in Action: Canada’s Atlantic Mackerel fisheries and the King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel fisheries are rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a “best choice,” because they are well-managed and sustainable. Mackerel reproduce quickly, which helps them withstand fishing pressures, and most fisheries, especially in the Atlantic, are regulated by enforcement agencies of each country and rely on sustainable fishing methods. The purse seines and midwater trawls used in these fisheries cause minimal bycatch (fish of the wrong species that are accidentally caught and simply thrown out, often dead or dying) or damage to the environment by dragging trawls along the ocean bottom. Because of Mackerel’s abundance, it is available year-round.