Do you ever think about the vital role oceans play for life on earth?
The oceans provide 50% of our oxygen and may be home to as much as 75-80% of the living species of this world, but no one is sure since there are so many species yet to be discovered in its vast depths. The ocean is essentially the heart of our planet. It plays a crucial role in the regulation of our climate and it provides food to people and animals.
However, the health of the ocean and its ability to support an ever-growing population is threatened by human activities including climate change, plastic pollution and overfishing, just to name a few.
World Oceans Day was first proposed by the Canadian government at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and, since 2008, the anniversary is also recognised by the United Nations (UN). The 8th of June has become a yearly special occasion to thank the oceans and reflect on the current status of their health.
It’s a simple fact that, for many of us, the fish we eat is the primary and most frequent contact we have with the ocean. Therefore, the easiest thing we can do to help our oceans is to be more conscious about how we nourish ourselves. What we spend our money on sends a message to fisherman and fish farmers and those who decide what to stock in the places where we shop. So every time we purchase any product in our daily lives, whether we know it consciously or not, we make a powerful choice that reinforces harmful practices or rewards good operators.
Sustainable seafood has made a lot of progress in the last years. For instance, 80-90% of retail and foodservice establishments in the US have a sustainable seafood policy in place. Also, according to figures published in 2015, 14% of seafood is certified worldwide. However, there’s still a lot to do and we as consumers have the power to drive change with our wallet and eating choices. Robust certification programme can protect the marine environment for the wildlife and people who depend upon it.
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) aims to be the world’s leading certification and labelling programme for responsibly farmed seafood. With its partners, the ASC runs an ambitious programme to transform the world’s seafood markets and promote the best environmental and social aquaculture performance.
Environmentally, farms must show not to harm natural habitats, local biodiversity and ecosystems, fish escapes must be minimised, and the use of medicines before a disease is diagnosed is prohibited. There are strict limits for the use of wild fish as ingredient for feed, and farms must ensure full traceability back to a responsibly managed source.
From a social perspective, farms must ensure to be safe and equitable working environments where employees earn a decent wage and have regulated working hours. They also need to show that their activities does not impact surrounding communities.
So here is an easy action you can take to protect our ocean: next time you decide to shop for seafood support retailers who are committed to sustainable seafood sourcing and look for the green ASC label!