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Celebrating the festive season often includes the grand tradition of sharing a feast with family and friends.
For seafood lovers, a platter of ocean fare making its way to the table is one of the things that makes Christmas celebrations so great. But with the world’s fish supplies in decline due to overfishing, purchasing and consuming, we need to consume seafood responsibly.
As GoodFish BadFish founder Oliver Edwards puts it: “Sustainable seafood is about eating seafood today, tomorrow and into the future. It’s about ensuring the ongoing vitality of the marine environment, the species that call it home, and the communities it supports.”
So what can you do to ensure there’s plenty of fish left in the sea for all those future Christmas celebrations?
1. Do your research before you start your shopping
Download theSustainable Seafood app by the Australian Marine Conservation Society or visit GoodFish BadFish to help you make better purchasing decisions. These sources inform you about poor farming and fishing methods used for specific species of fish. Poor fishing practices can jeopardise native sea life and other fauna, destroy coastal environments, including coral, and mismanage waste to the detriment of surrounding environments.
2. Buy Australian
Make sure you know which country the fish you’ve got your eye on is sourced from. We can be proud to say there are some of the best managed fisheries in the world on our own home turf. While there’s still work to be done to ensure our practices are truly sustainable, information about Australian fishing practices is usually easier to access.
3. Consider the real cost
Some seafood used to be very expensive to buy, making it a luxury item. The cost of some items has gone down so what does that mean you’re buying and supporting? There’s a direct correlation between the price of the seafood and how responsibly it’s been farmed or fished. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Speak up
When you’re browsing and asked if you need any assistance, voice your checklist and make it clear you’re not just shopping based on price. Don’t be afraid to ask if the species you’re looking to buy is overfished and how it was caught or farmed. Also ask if it’s a deep-sea, slow growing or long lived species. These types of fish are the most endangered and their decline has a large impact on the deep sea ecosystem. Tell your fishmonger you want to make decision based on sustainable practices so they understand consumers want these products.
5. Switch the fish
Just because your recipe calls for prawns, swordfish or flake doesn’t mean it’s the only type of species that can star in your dish. Swap one for another with this guide for better fish choices that will taste similar and make your meal complete.
6. Eat from fin to tail
Anyone for fish head curry? In many cultures, parts of the seafood we consider inedible are feature ingredients and star in their own special dishes. Heads, shells, legs and tails – keep them all and experiment with different recipes. Make the most of parts of the fish you wouldn’t normally cook or freeze discarded shells to use as a stock for future soups, risottos or pastas.