In 2005, concerns about seafood sustainability were voiced at Tasting Australia in Adelaide and at a Slow Food conference in Melbourne. The first Sustainable Seafood Guide was produced, identifying species in danger from over-fishing.
It turns out the fish and chip shop staple of my youth – flake – is now regarded as non-sustainable. It’s actually shark, and sustainability guidelines recommend not eating any fish regarded as a top predator. Other top predators include swordfish and tuna. Many other species are on the “do not eat” list, including hake, orange roughy, sea bream and snapper.
It’s not just wild-caught fish that have a seafood sustainability problem. Feeding farmed fish can involve harvesting and processing large quantities of smaller fish, in itself a non-sustainable practice. For example, the Guide says of farmed Yellowtail Kingfish:
Information from scientific reports identifies a high dependency on wild-caught fish for use in fish feed, with approximately 3kgs of wild-caught fish required to produce 1kg of yellowtail kingfish, which means yellowtail kingfish aquaculture actually uses considerably more wild fish than is produced through farming.
When it comes to tuna, Greenpeace recommends eating only skipjack tuna, rather than other species including yellowfin. Ideally, tuna should be caught by the pole and line method. CHOICE recommends the Coles and Safcol brands as being 100% pole and line-caught skipjack.
With nutrition experts urging us to eat more fish in preference to red meat, it seems that seafood sustainability will continue to be a significant issue for the foreseeable future.