Seaspiracy: A seafood response
The food system is complicated. Our supermarkets are filled with foods that are good for you, bad for you, sourced sustainably and justly, and sourced from locations that are experiencing environmental injustice, racial injustice, class discrimination, unjust work condition, and even slavery. This can and does include seafood, but painting an entire part of our food system with a broad brush stroke does a disservice to those who are doing things the right way.
Fisheries and seafood management in the United States is incredibly complicated but, for better or worse, the complicated web of rules and regulations also helps keep our oceans stocked with seafood and ensures that U.S. wild-caught seafood is a good choice. That is not to suggest that all US fish stocks are healthy and rebuilt, but instead that work is constantly being done to make things better based upon the best available science and management and that those changes are working. (NOAA)
But as Seaspiracy points out, it's not like that everywhere. There are some places in the world that are making poor decisions when it comes to how they harvest fish from the ocean. That's why you should seek seafood from countries with good management based upon sound science and accountability. You can always feel good about eating American (Maine!) seafood from fishing families and local fishing businesses and there are other countries in Europe and Canada with similar track records of management and sustainability.
We have all watched documentaries about beef and pork production, but we haven't all become vegan; instead, we seek out better land-based protein options from local farmers. And that's what we should do here.
On Friday, April 9, the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association hosted a panel of experts to discuss the Netflix show, Seaspiracy, and some of the issues stated above. The panel included Jes Hathaway, National Fisherman; Michael Conathan, Fisheries Policy Expert; Barton Seaver, chef and seafood educator; and, MCFA's executive director Ben Martens.
From Michael Conathan: "In talking about fisheries management techniques that were used around the world, they never talked about the reality that we see here in the United States which is that fisheries are very well managed here. Fish we catch in the U.S. is sustainable, almost full stop."
Like so many topics today, seafood and fishing are incredibly nuanced, and those subtleties can be the difference between good and bad decisions. One thing is for sure, American seafood is always a good decision.
You can watch the recorded panel HERE and a recent News Center Maine report on the panel HERE. National Fisherman also recently shared information in a post, Beyond Seaspiracy, that you can find HERE.
Other resources and articles
Portland Press Herald: Fishing industry blasts Netflix ‘Seaspiracy’ documentary for suggested seafood boycott, April 10, 2021
Sustainable Fisheries: The Science of Sustainable Seafood Explained
What can you do?