American fisheries provide more than just a source of food and a staple in our culture. They also contribute billions of US dollars to the U.S. Economy. It is both financially and environmentally sound to ensure the oceans are productive. This is especially true in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a region that is well-known for its seafood and fisheries, which are sold in many markets across the country.
As a result of the decline -; or in some cases, collapsing fisheries, a national sustainable seafood movement was born. Fisherman and anglers simply took more fish from the sea than the fish could reproduce. Gulf red snapper was one example. It was fished to less than 3% of its historical abundance. This used to discourage consumers from purchasing the fish. This is changing.
Mark Powell, vice-president of Ocean Conservancy, insists on the need to not abandon troubled or declining fisheries. Ocean Conservancy works with partners across the seafood industry chain, from fishery to fork, to improve the sustainability and quality of seafood.
“Ocean Conservancy envisions a future where seafood lovers such as myself can have their fish and eat it too,”Powell explained. “It’s time for conservationists and fisherman to work together. It is in all of our best interests -; fisherman, distributors, retailers, and consumers -; to get to the point where we no longer have to choose between our favorite fish and a more sustainable option. The days of pitting the fishing industry against the conservation movement are over. We have worked together to change the storyline.”
With a science-based rebuilding program for red snapper, this unique approach has already proven successful in the Gulf. The Gulf’s most iconic fish is now on a track to recovery and setting a new standard for fishery management in Gulf. “We are moving in the right direction. Managers, fishermen, wholesalers, retailers and consumers have all contributed to putting red snapper on the road to recovery,”Powell concluded.
Visit Ocean Conservancy’s Sustainable Seafood Campaign to learn more. www.oceanconservancy.org/seafood.