Sustainable seafood

I love fish. One of the things I enjoyed most when I lived in Barcelona was the great seafood everywhere. I always chose the fish dish – whatever it was – whenever I had menu del dia and was never disapointed. It was invariably fresh and tasty. I also learned to love a nice grilled calamari, arroz negre, and other seafood that previously I didn’t really eat. But I confess I don’t usually buy fish to cook at home. Initially, it was mostly because I didn’t have a good source of safe fish. I had heard lots about the alarming levels of toxic chemicals in many fish in the market and until I could figure out which ones were safe, I avoided buying any. The only fish I bought was salmon sold at Cumbrae’s because of the company’s commitment to sustainable, organic products.

While my concern in buying fish was mostly based on fear for its quality, it looks like what should be on our minds really is the quantity of fish available and our consumption of it. After reading this article at Chocolate & Zucchini about what Clotilde, its author, calls the “sustainable food dilemma”, I became more aware of the issue of the depletion of our oceans and rivers. I encourage you to read both the article and the discussion that ensued afterwards. The issue had been on my mind recently after a conversation with an English scholar in Spain who told me how Spanish fishermen are notorious in the fishing business for aggressively overfishing and moving into other countries’ water as they run out of fish in their own waters. Apparently most of the fish I enjoyed so much in Spain come from English waters, which are quickly becoming depleted.

But what can we do? Clotilde advises us to get a pocket seafood guide – I’ve seen those around grocery stores here in Toronto, you can download it here – which tells us which fish are safe both in terms of levels of contaminants and sustainability (which are being overfished, etc). We should also ask questions at our restaurants and fishmongers – something I’m not very good at – and show concern. Perhaps if enough people seem interested in getting only susteinable seafood, the market will change. With that in mind, spreading the word is paramount. You’ll find links to more indepth articles about the issue at the blog I cited above.

Author: guerson

Born and raised in Brazil, a Canadian stole my heart and took me to Canada in 1999. After seven years between Montreal and Toronto, we then moved to Barcelona, Spain, where I did research for my PhD thesis. This blog began as a chronicle of our adventures while living in Barcelona and exploring the old world and has acquired a life of its own after we moved back to Canada.

5 thoughts on “Sustainable seafood”

  1. Achei sensato o post e baixei o documento, porque dizer pras pessoas simplesmente nao comerem peixe nao adianta nada, se continuar assim daqui a uns dias soh vai dar pra se alimentar com comprimidos.

    Gostei do seu sitio, aos poucos você vai ajeitando, e fico curiosa pra conhecer mais sobre a sua pesquisa.

    Beijocas.

  2. Oi Alexandra, pegando um gancho neste seu post, eu lembrei de um post que eu li no “Uma malla pelo mundo” sobre o consumo consciente de peixes e frutos do mar. Nao sei se vc viu. O link é este aqui: http://www.interney.net/blogs/malla/2008/06/08/guia_malla_de_peixes/
    Algumas vezes, é complicado colocar em praticas certas atitudes sustentaveis, mas um primeiro passo é a informação e consciência, e aos poucos, mudando os hábitos, não eh? Bjs. Até, Paula

  3. Alex! Currently I follow a documentary series on dutch TV http://klootwijkaanzee.nl/ and I am just crazy about it. It is all on fish and the fish industry! Not only do I love how the series is made (the pace, the music, the commentary, this is how I like TV!), it’s contents are sooooo interesting. The makers of this program show us the weird way we deal with our food (at least I think it is weird at times). I wish you could see the episode “vis op reis”, which means “travelling fish”. Or the one on how tons and tons of herring get frozen (at sea, in a huge ship) in big blocks and then transported to Africa. Every episode I am amazed at what I learn about this industry. Perhaps we could watch it together one day, and I will translate for you ;-).

  4. I recently saw this, which is not only about fish, but what we eat in general. I thought it was really interesting, and made me think of the things I eat which I think are “healthy”, but are actually destroying the planet…
    But I have to admit, I also always take the fish option in the menu del dia!!!

    Kisses

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