By Madison Wallace, Newport Aquarium PR Aide
NEWPORT, Ky. — October is National Seafood Month! Our nation’s love of seafood is linked to increased brain health and a healthier economy, along with being slightly problematic to ocean conservation.
The average American eats 16 pounds of fish every year, making the United States the third highest country globally for seafood consumption.
While fishing is one of the world’s oldest professions, the extent to which we are depleting our oceans’ species and marine life is unprecedented. In the past decades, an estimated 70 percent of marine species have been added to the list of “fully depleted” species, according to the United Nations.
This is happening as a result of overfishing.
The commercial demand for fish is disrupting ecosystems at a rate too rapid for the population to replenish. Fish populations of cod, haddock and flounder have fallen by as much as 95 percent in the last decade alone.
When you read “National Seafood Month”, you might have begun to plan your next late night sushi fix; however, you might want to reconsider.
Five of the eight species of tuna are listed as “at risk for extinction”. Bluefin tuna can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and this makes them extremely valuable, especially to the sushi industry.
If tuna were to go extinct, many marine ecosystems would lose an apex predator, thus destabilizing the entire food chain, and resulting in a multitude of smaller fish varieties overrunning particular areas. This would undermine the foundations of microorganisms that make our oceanic ecosystems sustainable.
The WAVE Foundation, Newport Aquarium’s nonprofit partner, is a promoter of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is a program that allows seafood connoisseurs to identify how sustainable the seafood they consume is.
Seafood Watch is available as an app as well as online, and asks the user a series of questions to determine where their seafood came from and how overfished the species is. It then offers suggestions and gives ratings based on how overfished a species is.
“Our choices matter”, proclaims the opening screen of the Seafood Watch app. This statement is fitting.
For National Seafood Month, don’t stop eating seafood out of guilt, focus on making sure your choices are supporting the type of world you would like to live in.
It might seem normal to order seafood without a second thought to how it was caught, but Seafood Watch offers an alternative.
We all can take part in reversing the damages of overfishing; simple things like downloading the Seafood Watch smartphone app or asking your waiter “Do you serve sustainable seafood?” the next time you dine out can make a big difference.
Newport Aquarium has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since May 15, 1999. Named one of the best aquariums in the U.S. by Travel Channel and USA Today, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.
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