Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm..."

A few days ago, Dad sent me a link to this video on how basa (catfish) is farmed in Vietnam. Some parts didn't really faze me, but other parts... ew.

Tonight I decided to have fish for dinner, and guess what was in my freezer? Basa. From Vietnam. I was going to eat it anyway, and just not buy any more... but I couldn't.

Then, in tonight's depressing TV, I watched The End Of The Line on CBC's The Passionate Eye. It's about the fish stocks... those that have already collapsed, and those that are about to collapse. It was pretty grim.

1. Stop buying basa from Vietnam.
2. Avoid buying fish from countries who likely have dubious fishing or fish farming practices.
3. Buy fish with the sustainability logo, rather than "what's cheap".
4. Never buy bluefin tuna. (Figures I remember: 10 units would allow stocks to recover, 15 units is sustainable, the international consortium put quotas at 29.5 units, fisherman are ignoring the quotas and fishing 60 units. I can't remember what the specific units are... I think it's 1000 tons... but at any rate, we're about to lose the bluefin tuna.)


Sara said...

I hope a lot of people follow your lead! Good for you!

Heather said...

There are several fish I can no longer buy in good conscience. No more sole, nor cod. Only pacific wild salmon or steelhead. Farmed fish from Canada and US is generally ok.

You can print yourself a seafood guide

Also check the book Bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe

noricum said...

The TV show I was watching was actually against farmed fish: farmed fish grinds up other wild fish (generally small ones, like anchovies) to feed the farmed fish. You end up using lots of wild fish to produce less farmed fish.

Now, I know that some fish farmers are trying to reduce the fish content of the food, and also trying to do things to reduce the impact of the farm on the environment (like farming mussels downstream to reduce the amount of excess nutrients in the water caused by the farmed fish)... but it's hard to tell who's doing what when you're looking at a fillet.

Ironically, cod is one of the things that can be found certified. (Certainly not all cod... I think it's a different species, or a different school than what crashed on the Grand Banks.)

The TV show was showing how Alaska is enforcing responsible fishing practices in it's territory.

Thanks for the links!

Bethany said...

I usually go by the Monterey Bay Seafood guide... they have an app for my iPod. (Nice website and printable guides, too... they're for the US, though.)

What I get from them is that there are several issues involved in fish farming. One is pollution (done wrong, it can be very polluting). The other is what the fish eat. Vegetarian species seem to be considered more sustainable than carnivorous ones for the reasons you mention.

Montery Bay seems to think basa could actually be pretty good, if they're farmed domestically. Catfish, too, for similar reasons -- both are mostly vegetarian. I know domestically farmed rainbow trout are considered a good choice, as is domestically farmed tilapia. Salmon I know is generally better wild-caught.

The problem is that whether something is good choice depends on so much information that's often not readily available: where the fish were farmed/caught and in what manner they were farmed/caught.

Also, I love eel rolls. :-( I would be fine forgoing the eel part if there were some other yummy cooked fish I could substitute... but I don't know that there is, at my local sushi joint, anyway.

The good news is that Wal-Mart has decided to commit to selling sustainable fish. The bad news is that some people think that pressure from Wal-Mart is leading the Marine Stewardship Council to certify fisheries and that are not, in fact, sustainable.

It's so hard to know what to do.

noricum said...

Thanks for the info & link!

Interestingly, I was wondering how credible the certification was when I first saw it. Stuff like "it's just there to make the consumer feel good" or "a marketing ploy". Hearing that Walmart is pressuring to get things certified brings back those fears. *sigh*... I suppose it's better than nothing?