Australian restaurants pledge to serve only sustainable seafood

In an effort to reverse ongoing environmental concerns surrounding the fishing industry, some of Australia’s top restaurants are pledging to stop serving seafood that has been red-listed in the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Sustainable Seafood Guide.

The guide, which you can find here, was “developed in response to growing public concern about overfishing and its impact on our oceans and their wildlife.”

Therefore, any seafoods that have been red-listed impact the environment negatively and should not be purchased or served until the companies that catch them improve their sustainability and reduce the negative impact.

For instance, farmed Tasmanian salmon is red-listed because it has contributed to dropping oxygen levels in the harbor where they are farmed, affecting other plant and animal life that is threatening natural ecosystems.

Other seafoods such as prawns, tuna, marlins, shrimp and eels are also listed. Even sharks, which are vulnerable because they are hunted for their fins for a popular Asian dish known as shark fin soup, are on the list.

In response, the Australian restaurant industry is now getting involved, but in a very positive way.

“In my position as a chef, I have a big influence on what people eat and what other people cook because our restaurant is well known,” Ben Shewry, the chef and owner of Melbourne’s Attica told The Guardian. “If I don’t have what I would call a clean menu – if I don’t have best practice, the most sustainable menu I can have in terms of shellfish and seafood – then I am contributing to the problem.”

Shewry is the ambassador of the Good Fish Project, which is a group of restaurants that have pledged to only serve sustainable seafood in an effort to help fish populations and ecosystems recover as well as influence the fishing industry to start adopting sustainable practices.

Of course, Seafood Industry Australia, which represents the fishing industry, is accusing the Australian Marine Conservation Society of misleading the public and insists they truly care about the oceans.

“As fishers, our priority is the ocean,” group executive Jan Lowell said. “We advocate the health, sustainability and future of our sea. It’s our livelihood and the future livelihood of generations to come. We dismiss any comments otherwise.”

However, the ocean is also how executives like Powell profit, and greed often results in overfishing and irresponsible methods that don’t take environmental impact into consideration as long as it means they can stuff their pockets with cash.

If the fishing industry really cares about the oceans and their jobs, they should take the Sustainable Seafood Guide seriously and make the necessary changes to justify certain seafoods being reevaluated.

The fact is that we need seafood as part of our food supply, but we must handle ocean resources responsibly or risk destroying vulnerable ecosystems and ourselves. After all, there’s a lot reasons why the United Nations is considering a new treaty to protect the oceans, and human activity such as overfishing and exploitation is one of them.

Kudos to any restaurant that recognizes the threat enough to do something about it.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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