Choosing small, less common species may help replenish the ocean’s fish populations.
A recent New Yorker article by John Donohue, The Case for Eating Small Fish, highlights one aspect of the urgent need for a shift in the worldwide seafood supply and demand chain. A potential approach we can take to reduce overfishing? Choosing forage fish when ordering at a restaurant or grocery store.
Small fish, also known as forage fish, such as herring, mackerel and butterfish, aren’t typically frontrunners in the culinary world. The likes of salmon, tuna or grouper are more desired by chefs and diners. However, as demand for seafood increases worldwide, so does the demand for the feed for those fish, and a majority of that feed contains forage fish. In addition, thirty-seven percent of global seafood landings recorded annually consist of forage fish, up from less than ten percent fifty years ago, according to an analysis conducted by the Lenfest Foundation and financed by Pew Charitable Trusts, cited in the article. This rise in harvest is a result of increased distribution to both agriculture and aquaculture farms.
Donahue explains that technological advances produced in the 1940s led to larger, longer-lasting fishing equipment. Soon after, diesel engines, sonar technology and factory trawlers improved the efficiency of commercially catching and processing fish on a larger scale. Following World War II, the world’s annual catch quadrupled in just four decades, kicking off the rapid decline of many stocks.
You might be wondering: how would eating forage fish, a population on decline due to overfishing, help save them?
Paul Greenberg, the author of “Four Fish” and “American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood,” explained to Donahue over a forage fish dinner, “What if we cut the forage fish take in half and instead paid fishermen twice as much for that catch, since it would be sold as valuable human food rather than cheap animal food?” If consumers viewed forage fish as a valuable, desired menu option, fishermen would have the option to decrease the amount caught while remaining financially secure.
Adjusting the amount of forage fish used for feed may impact the agriculture and aquaculture industries. While there is much research to be done, thinking sustainably is a great place to start in order to protect our planet and seafood supply for generations to come.
Read the full article here.
No matter what fish you choose, big or small, always Ask Before You Order to make sure you’re supporting responsibly harvested seafood.