Overfishing is a huge problem. So huge that many types of fish and other marine species are on the brink of extinction due to commercial fishing practices. It is estimated that a massive 90% of larger predatory fish have already been eliminated from overfishing.
Not only are we depleting certain species in the name of food, we are also needlessly catching and discarding species that are accidentally caught through industrial fishing methods. While it’s hard to bring back species that are now extinct, there is something that we - and you - can do to prevent further marine destruction.
Doing Our Part
The ocean is an essential part of our business at the Steveston Seafood House. We pride ourselves on having the freshest seafood around by purchasing that seafood directly from local fishermen that line up at our docks. In order to maintain that quality without contributing to the depletion of the ocean, we have partnered with the Vancouver Aquarium’s ‘Ocean Wise’ fishing initiative.
‘Ocean Wise’ is a conservation program developed by the Vancouver Aquarium to bring awareness to the dangers and realities of overfishing. Any restaurant (like the Steveston Seafood House) that works with Ocean Wise is part of a larger sustainability effort to stop overfishing while also educating the public on the importance of buying local seafood that is also responsibly caught.
Types of Overfishing
Overfishing includes fishing certain species to the point of extinction (like some of the larger fish mentioned above), but it also includes some other elements of commercial fishing such as something known in the industry as a ‘bycatch.’
Often, it is not just the fish that are being sought by fishermen that are caught in nets and traps. Other species, including those that are already endangered, can be caught accidentally. When this happens, those species are thrown back into the ocean, and most do not survive. It is estimated that nearly 40% of the species caught by commercial fishing efforts are considered a ‘bycatch.’
Another issue related to overfishing is the destruction of habitats that include nursery, breeding, and sheltering grounds. Through the act of commercial fishing, these delicate ecosystems (like reefs, kelp forests, and wetlands) are often destroyed leaving a detrimental impact on the environment. One a breeding ground or nursery is destroyed, it takes years to build it back up.
How can you tell if the seafood you are eating is sustainable?
Fishing Methods Matter
The two biggest methods of fishing used by commercial outfits include bottom trawling and dredging. When trawling is used, a massive weighted net is literally dragged from the back of a fishing boat through the ocean to catch fish such as cod, halibut, sole, and rockfish. The problem with trawling is that it’s impossible to be selective of the type of fish that are caught, and this results in a large amount of bycatch. The other method that is used by commercial fishermen regularly is the dredge method.
Dredging is similar to trawling, only a dredging net is made from weighted metal. When this metal is scraped across the ocean floor, many different species are caught, and many habitats are destroyed. Like trawling, dredging does allow fishermen to catch specific types of fish. There are other methods employed by commercial fisheries that also create bycatch and destroy habitats, though trawling and dredging are the two biggest culprits.
How can you do your part to stop overfishing?
Any seafood product or seafood establishment that bears the ‘Ocean Wise’ mark means that the seafood served or sold has been caught responsibly. Simply by purchasing products that have this seal and eating at restaurants that are part of this program, you can contribute to the end of overfishing. When it comes to a major problem like this one, choosing where you eat your seafood makes a big difference.
At the Steveston House, we love fresh seafood, and we know that our customers do too, but we believe that fresh seafood can be enjoyed and caught responsibly. We do not want to contribute to any kind of environmental damage when preparing a delicious dish for you. What we do want to do is make sure that the seafood you’re eating is the freshest available, and that means working with Ocean Wise to bring you food that makes a difference.
That’s why all of the seafood served at the Steveston Seafood House is caught locally and responsibly. We work with the Ocean Wise program to solely purchase seafood that is recognized by this program. Come in and enjoy tasty dishes like cedar planked salmon, coconut prawns, and a variety of other seafood specialties that we know you’re going to love! We know that we are not only serving the best and freshest seafood to you, but we’re also serving up seafood that you can really feel good about eating.