Sustainable Seafood: The Blue Ocean Institute

Posted by Ian on Jan 19, 2009 in blog | No Comments

The ‘by-catch’ from a shrimp catch.

One of the critical challenges of achieving ecological sustainability is freely available information regarding the origin and modes of production of the food we eat. One of the solutions to this challenge is adhering to the locavore code or signing up to the 100 mile diet – using the economic impact of your food consumption to help build and sustain local, eco-friendly food production.

Unfortunately, when it comes to seafood – very little is ‘local’. Most of the seafood on offer today is caught hundreds of miles off-shore. As Dr Carl Safina, Founder and President of the Blue Ocean Institute, has shown [see his recent talk at Pop! Tech below] our expectations of ethical standards in fishing are far lower than that for agriculture and livestock.

For example, the image above shows the ‘by-catch’ from a haul of shrimp. All of the fish and other sea life seen here is dead and will be dumped overboard. This is only a tip of the iceberg of such ethical disasters in the fishing industry, and the Blue Ocean Institute hopes to change this, developing a new sea ethic for society.

This sea ethic is founded on freely available information to help us make better informed decisions about what we choose to eat. In achieving this social change, the Blue Ocean Institute has created a Seafood Guide online tool to help us understand the current situation involving our favourite seafood dishes. Using the tool, I learned that eating Atlantic cod, eel or Atlantic bluefin tuna supports ecologically dangerous fishing practices, endangers my personal health due to mercury levels or PCBs and in some cases threatens the extinction of certain populations of fish.

The Blue Ocean Institute has a range of programmes that are currently being developed with plenty of job and research opportunities. They are definitely an organisation to keep an eye on.

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