Teaching Our Girls About Sustainable Fishing
Recently, my husband I bought a fishing boat for our family to enjoy. The other day we took the girls out for a day of fishing. It was a lot of fun! We caught over 30 fish, which I think counts as a success!
But more than just being fun, it was a great opportunity to teach the girls about sustainable fishing. We didn’t keep every single fish we caught. In fact, we threw back a good amount of them. And of course, we took time to explain to the girls why we were doing it.
In a nutshell, sustainable fishing means fishing in such a way that doesn’t decrease the total amount of fish over time. Simple, right? That means that you don’t eat every single fish that you catch when you’re out on the ol’ boat.
Like this one, even though a nice size fish, we threw it back in because we already had all the fish we needed for that evening’s feast. (pictured on the right)
But this means something else when you’re buying fish in stores or ordering it in a restaurant.
Frankenfood of The Sea!
Most fish we eat is actually raised in fish farms, who raise fish in huuuuuuge batches.
Remember the big salmon craze from a couple years ago? We aaaaaall had to have salmon.
And while I love salmon, there’s a lot of unsustainable salmon farms out there trying to keep up with how much salmon people want all over the world.
According to Food Matters:
Farmed salmon bring their own set of troubles in their wake. For starters, aquaculture is a dirty industry. As many as 600,000 salmon may be raised in a single net-enclosed pen-itself usually installed in a protected fjord or inlet. Although progressive farmers rotate “crops” of fish between pens, the sea floor under the enclosed salmon becomes covered with fish excrement and uneaten food, creating a dead zone where nothing can live or grow. By some estimates, the salmon farms in British Columbia pump out as much fish faeces as the human equivalent from a city of 500,000. (source)
There’s also talk of GMO salmon. A whole GMO-made animal! No thanks, I’m not one for GMOs.
Unfortunately, this means a lot of fish are loaded up with artificial enhancers and drugs to make sure they grow as big as they would in the wild. This video explains it best: It’s easy for these farms to not be very good to their fish!
There are still Sustainable Fish Farms
Now, a lot of fish farms are trying to do the right thing and are working to become more sustainable. Lots of them work with the natural patterns of the fish as they behave in the wild, catching them at just the right moment in their migration.
You can help support sustainable fishing in various ways, including buying fish that is caught sustainably. If at all possible, buy wild-caught fish.
Most grocery stores offer it as an option. This is fish that has lived its entire life in the wild, and has never seen the inside of a fish farm. That’s what we want most! It will cost more, but it is well worth it.
It also helps to buy local fish whenever you can. When we aren’t catching, we head to the local fish market and get to pick the very fish we are going to eat. Extra bonus, they clean it right in front of you and you can take the fish bones and head and have it bagged up for a delicious fish stock!
Sticking closer to home means your food is more likely to have been harvested ethically.
Restaurants are doing this a lot now. I love it! I’d rather learn more about the fish in my area and eat a delicious meal that didn’t grow up in a crowded fish tank.
Talk About Sustainable Fishing
But one of the biggest ways to encourage sustainable fishing is just by talking about it. Talk to your children about the importance of sustainable fishing.
Show them which choices are better for the environment and explain why. Educate the next generation, so we can all enjoy fish in the future!
And bottom line, have fun when fishing. I can not tell you how rewarding it was to catch this fish and then to sit down at our very own dinner table to enjoy every last bite…knowing exactly where it came from.
Ever wonder how to filet a whole fish? I’ll show you how in an upcoming post!
Sam Vandervalk says
This is a good subject to discuss. I have a website about salmon and started a project to list salmon enhancement developments at http://www.salmonfishingnow.com/salmon-enhancement-university/ and would love to get people to contribute to the website. I am happy to give credit with links as long as it is valuable information shared. I run Salmon Eye Charters (www.salmoneye.net) on the west coast of Vancouver Island and hear about all the politics of what it happening and much of it is not great. There have been some who have done private enhancement and at least in the short term the small creeks are producing big runs–bigger than some of the government hatcher rivers. I have found that people working for the state/province run hatcheries are often have much different opinions about how to grow the salmon population for the long term.
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