You’re likely not a commercial fisherman nor in a place to directly effect regulations and thinking “so what can I do?”
You have power to effect change and it’s in your wallet (or purse). Where you spend money is much like casting a vote. Choosing to support the wrong candidate results in companies that don’t care about sustainability having far too much power to further their pillaging of the oceans.
To use your power for good, give this article a read and walk away with the knowledge you need to harness your power.
Sustainable Fishing’s Importance
You may be asking why sustainability matters in the first place, especially when it comes to fishing practices. The most fitting response comes when looking to our future as a community. In other words, when regulations aren’t established or followed, negative outcomes such as overfishing and endangered species occur. This puts to risk the food of not just our future but our younger generations’ futures as well. Additionally, when combining our current climate crisis with the high demand of today’s fishing industry the situation becomes even more precarious. Many marine biologists believe that a properly balanced food chain within our Oceans and Gulfs is vital to keeping sea surface temperatures at normal levels.
Consequently, a sustainable and ecologically friendly solution is both crucial and imperative. This solution is two-fold. For one, companies such as Wild Seafood Co. which actively seek out methods to help further long-term, sustainable fishing and two, educated consumers seeking out seafood harvested within the bounds of legitimate regulations.
Wild Seafood Co. is local to the Pinellas County, Florida area with deep-sea fishing boats that depart directly from John’s Pass. Furthermore, their product is sourced from the deep waters of our beautiful Gulf of Mexico in order to uphold their guarantee of “real, true fresh seafood”. In addition, they take it a step further by passionately upholding regulations and implementing the Gulf Wild program. Just how much they spearhead fishery conservation for the sake of our bay will be divulged in more detail below.
What Sets Seafood Companies like Wild Seafood Co. Apart?
Sustainability means as much, if not more to Wild Seafood Co. than most environmental “activists”. Meaning, not only do they hold their boats and their captains accountable when it comes to harvesting but they also helped spearhead an entire tracking system for properly harvested fish. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has long-established certain regulations per species. This is in an effort to keep their populations healthy and thriving. However, some of these parameters change depending on population levels, location, or season.
As a company, Wild Seafood Co. abides, both strictly and proudly, by these regulations. These standards help further sustainable fishing yet the founders of Wild Seafood Co saw more that could be done to help the cause.
Most impressively, the company helped create, and actively implements a tagging system known as the Gulf Wild tracking program. This program comes in the form of a tag attached to the gills of the fish and utilizes the TransparenSea tracking system. The tag allows you instant 24-hour access to the product’s credentials. For example, the species, the harvesting captain and vessel, the location it was caught, and the port where it landed. It’s as simple as inputting the sequential number of your tag to confirm the authenticity of your product.
Farm-Raised and Imported Fish
Many have the belief that farm-raised fish is the way to go since their meal isn’t impacting wild populations. Some believe that the fish they buy at the store is just the same as buying a fish locally. However, neither of these is true. Below we’ll dissect the aspects of each practice and where they fall flat in sustainability for the fishing industry.
Aquaculture: How It Negatively Impacts Our Waters
Aquaculture is basically farming but in the water. In other words, it is the controlled cultivation of aquatic organisms, generally utilized to raise various kinds of fish. Though it may appear as a system that would benefit wild populations and their watery ecosystem, it is actually quite harmful to the environment.
To begin, when multiple organisms are condensed together in a restricted area it leads to a build-up of organic material on the seafloor below. This organic material is generally feces and its coagulation can lead to environmental degradation. In other words, the population of plants and animals below and in the immediate area can be negatively affected.
For instance, the concentration of organic material can reduce oxygen levels within the sediment below. This lack of oxygen leads to the production and release of both methane and toxic hydrogen sulfide. The release of methane causes water temperatures to rise which can be deadly for some species, including the fish we all love to eat. Additionally, increased levels of hydrogen sulfide infect once beautiful waters with a potent “rotten egg” smell.
Structure and Operations
The formation of aquacultures requires a building process with large structural components entering the water and being grounded to the seabed. Though not always visible the “floor” of our oceans and bays is teeming with life and complex communities. The construction of these facilities harms these benthic ecosystems through habitat modification and an array of violent disturbances.
The fish within these aquacultures are generally not living a life of luxury. They’re cramped and therefore highly stressed not to mention in an environment favorable for bacteria. As a result, disease outbreaks are highly common. In addition, the increased concentrated food source can attract both escaped and wild fish. As a result, these organisms can then act as vectors for disease or parasites to the native fish in the immediate area.
What It Means To Buy Fish Shipped Overseas
In general, aquacultures or simply the fishing industry outside the United States is not regulated to the same standards as within the United States. For aquacultures their inspection standards tend to be lower, disease more common, and conditions more damaging both for the resident fish and nearby native fish species. Moreover, due to lax restrictions, contamination levels tend to be higher and antibiotics are increasingly used on resident fish as well.
Additionally, when a product is shipped overseas it is of course frozen in order to preserve the product. The longer an otherwise fresh fish is frozen, the more the flavor, freshness and color degrades. Not only is there a lengthy travel time across the ocean but many overseas seafood suppliers store their seafood in large freezers for unknown periods of time thanks to little or no standards or inspections.
Your Money = Your Power
What you spend your money on as a consumer almost acts as an approval stamp. In other words, whatever practices a business may be using you are supporting that and helping to fund their continued implementation. This means that your money as a consumer has power, and you can give or take that power from various sellers based on your spending decisions.
As a result, by supporting businesses like Wild Seafood Co. you’re helping in the spearheading of fishery conservation today. You’re providing valuable funds for the continued implementation of sustainability so that we can continue to utilize our waters for future meals and future generations. Keep in mind, any product with the Gulf Wild tag provides the same support in sustainability. The Gulf Wild program, no matter which business chooses to use it, promises the same mission of accountability, fresh product, and conservation-minded fishing practices.
Win, Win, Win
Supporting seafood suppliers which actively go above and beyond to further sustainability also means YOU are actively thwarting the bad practices of overfishing done throughout the world. Atop all that, when you buy from sustainable suppliers you’re cooking with the best tasting seafood available. Support local, thwart bad practices AND eat the best tasting seafood… now that’s a win, win, win!
To see a complete list of seafood suppliers actively using the Gulf Wild tracking system, click here.
If you’d like to shop Wild Seafood Co’s online market, here’s a link to our online seafood market.