Vote for a sustainable ocean: buy the best fish

Forest and Bird has issued an update of its popular, and very useful, Best Fish Guide. The guide

takes into account the state of fish stocks, the amount of seabird, marine mammal and non-target fish bycatch, the damage done to marine habitats and other ecological effects caused by the fishing to decide on its rating.

It’s a tool that empowers the consumer to make an informed choice about their seafood. Just as we might give it a sniff to judge freshness or compare prices, the Best Fish Guide is a sniff-test of each fish species’ sustainability. Forest and Bird say:

Making the best seafood choice is not easy. All fishing has an impact. We urge you to use this guide to help make more informed choices when buying seafood… Our combined buying power can help take pressure off the most over-exploited species and alleviate the harm caused by the most damaging fisheries. Our choices can also influence government policies, change fishing practices and help ensure that fisheries are managed sustainably.

The wallet-card guide can be obtained from Forest and Bird, and the ratings are all online here. The full assessment and methodology are also downloadable:

Metiria wrote in a recent think-piece about the state of our oceans and fisheries that:

Our ocean is not “out of sight, out of mind”; it is the backyard, the pantry and a source of pride for all New Zealanders. It is not too late to reverse the decline, and it makes economic sense to do so now. We can commit to strong action on climate change, a good Oceans Policy, and making the Fisheries Act sustainable.

Consumer tools like the Best Fish Guide help us as individuals vote with our wallets for a sustainable and healthy ocean.

To end, here’s something a Kiwi band could copy: the Oxford band Stornoway make a political point in their ‘Good Fish Guide’ song:

9 Comments Posted

  1. here is a call/plan for an 80% reduction by 2020..

    “..International agreements take too long ..

    .. we need a swift mobilisation not seen since the second world war

    For those concerned about global warming, all eyes are on December’s UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.

    The stakes could not be higher.

    Almost every new report shows that the climate is changing even faster than the most dire projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their 2007 report.

    Yet from my vantage point, internationally negotiated climate agreements are fast becoming obsolete for two reasons.

    First, since no government wants to concede too much compared with other governments ..

    .. the negotiated goals for cutting carbon emissions will almost certainly be minimalist ..

    .. not remotely approaching the bold cuts that are needed.

    And second, since it takes years to negotiate and ratify these agreements, we may simply run out of time.

    This is not to say that we should not participate in the negotiations .. and work hard to get the best possible result.

    But we should not rely on these agreements to save civilisation.

    Saving civilisation is going to require an enormous effort to cut carbon emissions.

    The good news is that we can do this with current technologies, which I detail in my book, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.

    Plan B aims to stabilise climate, stabilise population, eradicate poverty, and restore the economy’s natural support systems.

    It prescribes a worldwide cut in net carbon emissions of 80% by 2020 ..

    .. thus keeping atmospheric CO2 concentrations from exceeding 400 parts per million (ppm).. in an attempt to hold temperature rise to a minimum.

    The eventual plan would be to return concentrations to 350 ppm, as agreed by the top US climate scientist at Nasa, James Hansen, and Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC.

    In setting this goal we did not ask what would be politically popular ..

    .. but rather what it would take to have a decent shot at saving the Greenland ice sheet ..

    .. and at least the larger glaciers in the mountains of Asia.

    By default, this is a question of food security for us all..”


  2. It’s a curious thing that we describe the condition of the fish populations in our oceans by whether or not there’ll be enough of them for us to eat. Is that the extent of our relationship with them – whether we can get them in our mouths?
    I’m reminded of a toddler with a slobbered-on block.

  3. There are so many fish species that should be left in the water (that’s the place for plaice).
    If you must fish, catch and release (you too whitebaiters!)

  4. (i wrote this in 2006..)

    science magazine has published startling/disturbing research results that clearly show…that continuing to fish the seas at the rate we do…
    means most species now harvested/eaten will be gone by the middle of this century..

    (now..!..that ain’t far away folks…!)

    and as for our futures if we don’t stop doing this..and much more…?

    think ‘easter island’…

    it’s as simple as

    (now..i don’t wanna ‘nag’ here or anything….but can i once again exhort you to consider the diet of the future..(if we have one)…

    (and sorry..going vegetarian..and still eating nearly there…but y’know…!
    animal pain/shit run-off etc etc…still means being part of the

    just meditate for a while on what you eat..and what each item you eat ‘does’ to the planet..

    it ain’t rocket

    and (like many other things/advances)…when you are there…you find it hard to understand why others can’t see what for you is the ‘bleedin’ obvious’

    so i guess i’ll just have to continue ‘nagging’…(but only when

    cos’..if you don’t listen to/heed the naggers…our future looks decidedly


  5. I emailed FIsh & Game to get a copy. They’ll send out extra copies as well for people who are keen to help out and pass them onto friends, local chefs etc.

  6. The guide is a relative scale; and assessments of each species are against set criteria. So no fish species currently has “green” status, but some are “greener” than the others.

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