It’s no secret that the over-farming of our oceans has had severe environmental impacts, but today, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Organization has announced a major win for seafood sustainability. The ocean issues and fish farming watchdog organization has upgraded 21 important species of West Coast fish from “avoid” to “best choice” or “good alternative.” The upgraded species include rockfish (sometimes served as snapper), Dover sole, spiny dogfish, and starry flounder. Most of these species are regularly seen on menus at West Coast restaurants.
Fisheries’ catches are rated based on management, gear, habit protection, and recovery of overfished species. The turnaround exhibits the change in mindset of West Coast fisheries, from fishing blindly for profit, to helping to maintain and improve habitats and minimize environmental impact. One of these improvements is fisheries turning to a catch share management system which only allow programs to fishin a specific area, and/or a catch limit.
“Not long ago many of these species were in collapse,” said Tim Fitzgerald, who manages the sustainable seafood program for the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the organizations that worked with fishermen and fisheries managers on the turnaround. “Thanks to smarter fishing regulations and fishermen’s commitment to conservation, consumers and seafood businesses can now add West Coast groundfish to their list of sustainable choices.”
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi