Make the ocean as happy as it makes us
Imagine a world without seafood… this might sound far-fetched because there is always an abundance of fish, shellfish and other under-the-sea products to choose from in both restaurants and supermarkets in Hong Kong. But being a smart consumer is about looking beyond this illusion of abundance. The reality is that 90% of the world’s oceans are either fully fished or overfished. This means that if we continue to eat seafood at the current rate, we are likely to be left with a lifeless ocean, potentially within our lifetime. But it doesn’t have to be that way; we can actually get the oceans back into shape simply by giving them a little rest. Here are some easy ways to avoid a future without seafood:
Look for labels
Ecolabels on restaurants menus and at shops can help you to choose both wild-caught and farmed seafood. Don’t choose seafood where there is no identification as to its origin and how it was caught. These ecolabels are usually issued by third-party certification bodies that set standards and verify seafood products as sustainable. So find that label before you buy!
Use seafood guides
In Hong Kong, where seafood is highly sought after by both locals and tourists for their restaurant feasts, making the right decisions can be tricky. The Choose Right Today website is very helpful as it lists all the commonly found seafood in Hong Kong that we should avoid eating. This should become our eating-out and grocery-shopping bible.
The WWF Seafood Guide, which categorises seafood by colour with Green (Recommended), Yellow (Think Twice) and Red (Avoid), is also recommended. Pay attention to the origin and catch method as many methods (e.g., bottom trawling and longlines) are destructive. Such methods can devastate the marine environment and/or kill non-target species like sea turtles, dolphins, seabirds and sharks.
As a rule of thumb, when in doubt – avoid it.
Don’t eat small and juvenile fish
They make look cute and appetising, but try to avoid eating them whenever you can. The reason? With small fish, it’s likely that they have not yet reproduced, depriving the ocean of future populations – populations that the ecosystem needs desperately in order to thrive.
Photo credit: Stan Shea
Along with the usual questions when ordering, like asking how the fish is prepared or requesting the sauce on the side, use your consumer power to make demands by asking if they are serving any sustainable seafood instead. And while you’re at it, make sure they know the answers to these questions when they say yes:
- What is the species?
- Where is it from?
- How was it caught or farmed?
- Was it certified as sustainable?
Find places you can trust
Check out these links that have done the work for you in order to easily find restaurants and outlets that offer sustainable seafood.