The demand for fish products is increasing every year, at the same time there are fewer and fewer fish in our seas. These four tips should help to consciously adjust our daily fish consumption.
The Swiss are eating more and more fish: 170 grams of fish and crustaceans per capita per week, that is almost nine kilos per year. The amount has almost doubled since 1960. The biggest problem is that only a very small part of it comes from Switzerland.
Around a third of the world’s fish stocks are considered overfished, which means that more of these fish species are fished than can grow back naturally. The other two thirds are on the verge of overfishing.
One solution is aquaculture, which already accounts for around half of the fish on our plates. But fish farms also damage the environment, primarily through the use of chemicals and antibiotics, which in turn end up in rivers and seas. Everything about the advantages and disadvantages is in the new episode of “CO2ntrol”.
So what to do? We can consume fish products more consciously in everyday life. These four tips should help the next time you go to the fish counter.
Tip 1: Consume less fish
The first tip is obvious: the less fish each and every one of us eats, the better off the fish stocks are. You can of course recover and the ecosystem remains intact. Reducing the need to fish also reduces the amount of unwanted bycatch of marine life such as dolphins and sea turtles in the net.
Tip 2: Regional before global
Pay attention to the origin of the fish: With fish from the region, the conditions of breeding are easier to trace than those from abroad. But be careful: there are regional fish farms that import almost fully grown fish into Switzerland and sell them as Swiss fish. This can be problematic because it is not always clear how these fish were raised abroad.
It is better to opt for fish from farms that import shrimp or fish as eggs or babies and raise them in Switzerland. A label for such farms is currently being worked on and is being coordinated by the Swiss Aquaculture Association. Until then, it is worth asking the retailer directly.
Tip 3: Understand the labels
Speaking of the label: As far as the rules and requirements are concerned, the seals on the cans and packaging are very different. It is all the more important to be aware of what the individual labels contain.
However, it is difficult to compare the labels because they often pursue different goals. Some of these labels focus on the protection of unintentionally caught marine life, others are committed to conserving fish stocks. However, the well-known fish labels often only contain one of these aspects – and that makes them difficult to read. However, a label is still better than none at all.
The most important labels under the magnifying glass
The oldest fish seal of all is “Dolphin Safe” or SAFE. First and foremost, SAFE is a dolphin conservation program designed to prevent dolphin bycatch while fishing for tuna. Certified fisheries implement measures to reduce bycatch and ensure that animals caught unintentionally are released. However, the program does not rule out bycatch.
Among other things, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) campaigns against overfishing of the seas and for the conservation of fishing grounds. Environmentalists criticize the fishing methods under the MSC label, which basically remain the same as in industrial fishing. According to Greenpeace, the MSC label may protect the species, but not the fish.
The association demands what are probably the most sustainable conditions when fishing “Fair Fish”. The suffering of the animals should be kept as small as possible: only a short time on the line or in the net and immediately stun and kill. There are fishermen in Senegal who already fish according to these guidelines and have been importing to Switzerland since 2006.
Tip 4: Research the fish
Finally: If it has to be more exotic on the plate and the desired fish is not available in the region, it is worth doing a little research into its sustainability. Various apps can help with this.
Are you interested?
All episodes of “SRF CO2ntrol” can be found at Play SRF.