Topline Trends Tuesday: Get hooked on smaller fish

mackerel

According to experts like the scientists and conservationists who developed Ocean Wise, Seafood Watch and the movie The End of the Line, we would all be doing our oceans a favour by choosing small fish like mackerel and sardines more often.

Studies show that within the past century, we’ve fished about 90% of all the large fish species in the ocean, which means we’re now fishing the last 10%. These large fish take a long time to mature so if we continue to plan menus that feature large fillets of fish as our entrées, it won’t be long until there are no more fish to catch. In fact, one source confided to me that many large fish species could be extinct as soon as 2050!

The good news is that a growing number of restaurant chefs are experimenting with more resilient fish species such as sardines, mackerel and other smaller fish that mature fairly quickly and produce high numbers of offspring.  Regrettably, consumers have yet to embrace these options. In fact, most Canadian fish lovers still prefer to eat salmon, tuna and other large fish while 90% of the sardines caught in North America are sold to Australia to be used as food for farmed tuna.

Have you changed your fish-eating habits because of conservation issues? Or, is this a new idea for you to consider? Likewise, do you think that making choices one meal at a time will make a big difference or is the extinction of blue fin tuna and other big fish inevitable?

6 Responses to Topline Trends Tuesday: Get hooked on smaller fish

  1. Taras Grescoe’s Bottomfeeder was a huge eye-opener for me. I now am much more cautious when buying fish. And much more confident in purchasing items that are sustainable. Before, I was just confused. Online resources like Oceanwise and Seachoice are invaluable — but people have to care enough to read and follow the advice.

    I am an idealist and if we all made sustainable seafood choices one meal at a time, we wouldn’t be in this mess. However, most of the world doesn’t think this way. It will take a big shift in global thinking to make a difference. Will this happen? I don’t know. Such changes require huge cultural and economic shifts.

    Human history is full of repeated mistakes — but also full of unexpected turns. Let’s hope the move toward sustainable food has the momentum to turn thing around before it’s too late.

  2. Barb says:

    In the last number of years I have really been struggling with eating fish and saving the oceans. I’m not sure that anything I or we do will change the habits of others who fish any and everything.

  3. I love mackerel! Love it. But it isn’t particularly easy to come by in Alberta, unless it is at a sushi joint. But we fished it in Baja and I could have eaten that every single day. Fish tacos for breakfast.

    I digress. Living in land-locked Alberta, we don’t generally buy a lot of fish. We’ll take what we’re given by friends who went on fishing trips, and sometimes buy. But our greater, immediate concern with seafood is whether the freshwater fish are loaded with mercury or not. That is a big issue here with the number of coal plants we’ve got. You literally can’t eat some fish because they are too contaminated.

  4. cheryl says:

    I definitely think that with this issue, as with other complex food issues, the more people understand the issues involved, the more likely consumers and diners will change their habits. People like you and Martin are in a unique position to influence others’ behavior… bravo to you both for using your respective platforms so wisely.

  5. TGeach says:

    I would have to agree with Cheryl. It is chefs and people like you that have the most influence on the way we see our food. If we have some of the top chefs making exciting and interesting dishes with these smaller more resilient species it will start to create that consumer demand.

  6. Tanya says:

    blessings to you for writting a post on this.

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