Sustainable Fish


As Earth’s population continues to grow at an exponential rate (some scientists predict 9 billion by 2050), land for farming does not.  Farmers, scientists, and even chefs are all looking to the future for not only how to find our protein, but how to be sustainable.

Steve Hargreaves in is article “Fish You Can Feel Good About Eating” from CNN’s Tech Fortune section, discusses that many consumers are aware that there is a problem with fish and fishing, but don’t know the answers or at least enough information to make an informed decision.  The most commonly bought fish are salmon and tuna, but they are also higher up on the food chain, so should be avoided.  Bottom-feeders like tilapia and catfish are more sustainable.  To make matters worse, it only takes a year for tilapia to reach maturity while some tuna can be up to 20 years old by the time it hits your plate. 

CNN also covered an event in February of this year (2012) where 30 leaders in seafood gathered to discuss sustainability in their fields.  Many had the larger concern about overfishing, but brought even more to the table.  What waters are they coming from?  What kind of chemicals, feeding habits, waste run-offs, we’re ending up in the water?  
Not all of the questions have been answered yet, but there are several organizations that have already begun to change the standards. 

Verlasso, located in the cold waters of Patagonia, is the only company producing harmoniously raised salmon. With standards guided by the World Wildlife Fund’s sustainability goals, the company aims to change the way the world gets their salmon. Situated away from the threat of pollutants, industrial waste or other contaminants, Verlasso raises its salmon with a very low pen density of four fish per ton of water. This environment allows each fish to be identified and monitored carefully to ensure a healthy life.
The harmoniously raised salmon also have a unique diet that reduces the fish-in fish-out ratio by 75 percent. This innovative process replaces fish oil with yeast, rich in Omega-3s, making Verlasso salmon markedly more sustainable. The pens are also allowed to rest for months between production cycles, a process akin to farmers letting fields go fallow and ameliorate themselves from the rigors of production. The results have been significant.

Many of the chefs who attended the conference already order strictly from these providers for their own restaurants and claim that the taste is much better!  I can’t wait to find one near me.