Good fish guide

Sus­tain­able fish­eries

Element - - Contents - By Kate Beecroft

For­est and Bird has re­leased its 2013 Best Fish Guide and for the first time ever, this year’s edi­tion has eval­u­ated the sus­tain­abil­ity of aqua­cul­ture in New Zealand.

For­est and Bird first de­vel­oped the Guide af­ter real­is­ing that there was a lack of in­for­ma­tion for New Zealand con­sumers on the eco­log­i­cal sus­tain­abil­ity of com­mer­cial wild fish­eries. How­ever, in keep­ing with global trends, New Zealand’s aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try has bur­geoned, and there is a need for guid­ance about the im­pact of farmed fish. Glob­ally, about 46% of all fish con­sumed is now de­rived from aqua­cul­ture.

For­est and Bird hopes that the ad­di­tion of aqua­cul­ture to the guide will help in­form con­sumers in mak­ing the best choice for our oceans and avoid buy­ing into what we are sim­ply told is sus­tain­able. Con­sumers are keen to know more; There have been 7000 down­loads of the app that ac­com­pa­nied the 2012-2013 Guide.

A ma­jor fea­ture of the new Best Fish Guide is the no­tion that pur­chas­ing farmed fish is broadly more sus­tain­able than pur­chas­ing wild fish and land-based farm­ing has lower im­pacts than farm­ing in the sea. Ka­t­rina Sube­dar, For­est and Bird’s marine con­ser­va­tion ad­vo­cate says: “It’s true that not all fish species can be farmed on land, but what we’re es­sen­tially try­ing to do is give the con­sumers the best in­for­ma­tion pos­si­ble to be able to make a good choice for the en­vi­ron­ment, and of­ten farmed fish are a bet­ter op­tion.”

She adds, “You will never be able to com­pare the sus­tain­abil­ity of wild fish and farmed fish per se, but the rank of a fish on the Guide is a com­par­i­son in terms of the eco­log­i­cal ef­fect, for in­stance, a green lipped mus­sel is al­ways the best choice.”

The as­sess­ment cri­te­ria uses seven dif­fer­ent is­sues, adds weight­ing for each cri­te­rion, as­sesses the ex­tent to which a farmed species meets all of the cri­te­ria and gives each species farmed an aver­age eco­log­i­cal rank­ing for sus­tain­abil­ity.

The use of wild fish to feed farmed fish has, in the past, been a ma­jor fac­tor in de­ter­ring con­sumers from pur­chas­ing salmon. In New Zealand, and abroad, there has been a push to re­duce the amount of fish­meal and fish oil that

Glob­ally about 46% of all fish con­sumed is now de­rived from aqua­cul­ture.

is fed to fish. Feed has been sup­ple­mented by an­i­mal or plant pro­tein, par­tic­u­larly soy bean and other high pro­tein veg­etable al­ter­na­tives. But fish­meal is still needed in any feed to sup­ply es­sen­tial amino acids which are de­fi­cient in plant pro­teins and fatty acids found in veg­etable oils.

The Guide takes th­ese fac­tors into ac­count in its rank­ings – the team at For­est and Bird have con­sulted with ex­perts to en­sure the key is­sues have been in­cluded in their method­ol­ogy.

There have been some no­table move­ments in the wild fish on the guide due to the in­clu­sion of farmed fish species. Cray­fish has moved up from ‘or­ange’ to ‘green’ choice, as has Kawawhai and Yel­low-eyed Mul­let. Blue Moki has moved down the list, be­com­ing an or­ange choice.

The as­sess­ment also ranks farmed fish by re­gion. So if you’re stand­ing in front of a range of mus­sels, con­sult­ing the guide will let you know which re­gion pro­duces mus­sels with the least ecosys­tem im­pact. Sude­bar says: “We’ve found that con­sumers absolutely want to un­der­stand the en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects of their pur­chases.”

Green lipped mus­sels. Photo: Babiche Martens

Paci­fi­coys­ters. Pic­ture by Sarah

Ivey

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