Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper’s first peer reviewed journal article is out! BBWK partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch for this study that examines the sustainability of U.S. fisheries. We found that 98% of U.S., wild-caught fisheries are considered “best choice” or “good alternative” eco-friendly choices, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium”s Seafood Watch. While it was found that the majority of U.S. fisheries are rated “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative”, only 19% received the top “Best Choice” rating. This limitation was primarily due to bycatch concerns.
U.S. fisheries are considered one of the best managed in the world, and have been successful at greatly reducing overfishing as well as rebuilding stocks. However, NOAA’s determination of “sustainable stocks” may not include the ecosystem-wide impacts that Monterey Bay Aquarium incorporates into their sustainability ratings, such as habitat impacts, food web interactions, and bycatch.
Bycatch refers to fish or other marine animals that are unintentionally caught when fishing for another target species. A staggering number of marine life is caught and then discarded overboard, usually injured or dead. These species include sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, seabirds, and other fish. Efforts to reduce bycatch include using new technology to modify fishing equipment and implementing management measures. However, even though these solutions have helped alleviate the problem, bycatch is still a major global issue. The article explains, "By improving performance with regard to bycatch, most 'Good Alternative' U.S. federal fisheries could reach 'Best Choice' status and reap rewards in the marketplace for that recognition".
BBWK believes that current requirements for rebuilding depleted stocks should be preserved, and stronger bycatch requirements should be adopted to help more fisheries achieve the "Best Choice" rating. We also commend NOAA on science-based fishery management that is working to preserve the U.S. fishery stocks and industries.
You can help save marine life by shopping responsibly. By downloading the Seafood Watch consumer app, you can to find seafood for purchase that has been fished or farmed in ways that have less impact on the environment. The app also provides recommendations for restaurants near you that serve sustainable seafood options. You can also help support BBWK’s initiatives to achieve our goals to protect our fisheries and marine ecosystems by donating here.
Check out the paper here!