Sat, Jun 15, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Guides on sustainable seafood eating released

OVERFISHING:An advocacy group and a researcher have released guides on what species can be eaten and what should be avoided to help preserve fish stocks

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Greenpeace Taiwan has teamed up with environmental group Oceanus Honors Gaia, Taiwan, and a marine researcher at Academia Sinica to introduce two pamphlets to help people choose the right seafood that would contribute to sustainable marine resources.

Citing a report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2010, Greenpeace Taiwan oceans campaigner Yen Ning (顏寧) said that about 85 percent of the world’s commercial fish species are listed as exploited, overexploited, depleted or recovering, with the fish stocks for inshore fishing in Taiwan having declined about 70 percent in the past 30 years.

An FAO study of Pingtung County’s Donggang Township (東港), famous for its annual bluefin festival, showed a rapid fall in its bluefin tuna catch each year, Yen said.

The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species in the North Pacific Ocean also released a report this year showing the population of bluefin tuna plunged 96.4 percent between 1952 and 2011, Yen added.

“Consumers should think about whether they actually need the products they purchase, and learn about the food that they buy,” she said.

Ocenaca Lin (林愛龍), CEO and chief lobbyist of Oceanus Honors Gaia, Taiwan, said the group is promoting the idea of “green consumption” — paying attention to the source or origin of food, the supplier and the manufacturer, and whether they have green certifications, to protect seafood resources from depletion.

The group has published a “Taiwan Sustainable Seafood” pamphlet detailing which types of seafood are “recommended for eating,” “should be avoided if possible” or “should not be eaten at all to prevent overfishing.

Liao Yun-chih (廖運志), a postdoctoral fellow at Academia Sinica’s Research Center for Biodiversity, has also introduced a “Seafood Guide Taiwan,” which groups seafood species into three categories: “recommended,” “think carefully before purchase” and “avoid.”

“Species, such as oyster, Pacific saury and milkfish, are recommended because of their natural or vegetarian diet, and their relatively abundant population,” Liao said.

Upper trophic level species should be avoided if possible, because they usually feed on small fish and shrimps, grow slower and are more difficult to repopulate, and may contain higher levels of accumulated heavy metal substances in their bodies, he said.

Greenpeace added that other than promoting green consumption, it is even more important for the government to reevaluate its fishing policies to deal with the problem of overfishing.

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