Mon, Jan 25, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Consumers urged to choose sustainable fish for feasts

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Environmentalists and marine scientists have produced a guide to sustainable seafood ahead of the Lunar New Year to encourage people to prepare environmentally friendly holiday dinners.

“Price and freshness are not the only factors consumers should consider when shopping for fish. The method of fishing used, productivity and population of a fish species are also very important,” said Liao Yun-chih (廖運志), a researcher at the National Museum of Marine Science and Technology in Keelung, which on Friday launched an awareness campaign to promote sustainable holiday dinners and offered shopping guides.

The use of fish feed is also a significant factor when it comes to selecting farmed fish, as some farmed species such as groupers and yellow croakers feed on coarse fish, which are harvested through bottom trawling, a destructive method that indiscriminately captures all fish on the seafloor.

Consumers should instead choose fish farmed with vegetarian feed, such as flathead grey mullet, milkfish and tilapia, Liao said.

Consumers should also select wild fish that are at the bottom of the food supply chain, such as Japanese horse mackerel, flying fish and rabbitfish, or fish of seasonal migratory species such as largehead hairtails or the Pacific sauries, whose harvest will have the smallest impact on fisheries resources, Liao said.

Overfishing has led to the depletion of fisheries resources, and a UN report has warned that most fish species will disappear by 2048 if worldwide fishing continues at its present pace, he said.

Meanwhile, a coalition of environmental groups on Friday threw a year-end sustainable seafood party to promote public awareness of the need to prevent overfishing.

The party menu included a largehead hairtail hot pot, fried Spanish mackerel, grilled European perch and pan-fried black porgy, which were selected according to a responsible fishery index that assesses a species’ role in the food chain, the ability to repopulate, conservation status, production methods and management status.

Taiwan Fisheries Economic Development Association standing director Hsu Cheng-yu (徐承堉) said the index also takes the livelihood of fishermen into account, as wild Spanish mackerel are an important source of income for fishermen in Penghu County.

Seafood accredited according to the index are available at Homemakers United Foundation stores and many restaurants, Hsu said, adding that producers and consumers alike are responsible for ensuring a sustainable seafood industry.

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