The Importance of Environmentally Friendly Fishing Methods
Our oceans produce more than half of the oxygen that we need to sustain life on this planet. Oceans also have a remarkable ability to absorb carbon dioxide, helping to mitigate some of the harmful effects of climate change. Seafood harvested from our oceans is the main source of protein for approximately one billion people, while the fishing industry is the principal source of employment for over 200 million people worldwide (WWF, 2014a). With this in mind, it becomes clear that we have a responsibility to protect all marine ecosystems while also sustaining the fisheries. As part of that effort, it is important to mandate environmentally friendly fishing methods.
Varieties of Fishing Methods
The fishing methods that are considered environmentally friendly are those that conserve stocks for future generations while preserving healthy ocean ecosystems as a whole. While overfishing and illegal fishing are both serious concerns when it comes to achieving sustainability, the type of fishing methods employed can also place a serious strain on ocean ecosystems. For instance, bottom trawling uses a net that is dragged along the ocean’s floor, damaging the seafloor habitat while scooping up large amounts of bycatch, or unintended species of fish. Destructive fishing methods such as bottom trawling can result in bycatch of 40% or more of the global catch, which must be thrown back into the sea: dead, dying or damaged (WWF, 2014b). Other methods, such as pole and line, which involves catching small amounts of fish, aren’t feasible for large-scale fishing operations. Because they are also more time consuming, these practices are not energy efficient, and use more resources and fuel, resulting in a larger carbon footprint.
Sustainable Fishing Methods
- Purse Seining, using fish aggregating devices, or FADs, can be a very effective and efficient fishing method. FADs attract targeted groups of seafood such as schools of tuna which are then encircled with nets and the bottom of the netting is closed while scooping up the catch. Appropriately employed, the bycatch using FADs can be as low as 1% (ISSF, 2014c).
- Longlining uses a central fishing line that can be many miles long. The line, supported by floats and marked with flags, is strung with many smaller lines of baited hooks (Clover Leaf, 2014a). By sinking longlines deep in the water, and with the use of special circle hooks, these lines can be extremely effective with very little bycatch (ISSF, 2014b).
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), which brings together scientists, environmentalists and industry leaders, was formed with the goal of using science-based initiatives to promote sustainable methods of fishing and conserving tuna stocks. Tuna fishing, being one of the few remaining large-scale hunts, is an integral part of global diets and economies. The ISSF’s principles of governance include:
- Working with Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).
- Using sound science to determine sustainable yields.
- Minimizing bycatch and providing for the health of ocean ecosystems.
- Eliminating illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) tuna fishing.
- Supporting eco-labelling certification programs that meet United Nation guidelines (ISSF, 2014a).
Clover Leaf’s Commitment
Companies such as Clover Leaf Seafoods have led the industry with their commitment to the policies of the ISSF. With both an ethical and financial interest in responsible fishing practices, Clover Leaf has complied with all regulations laid out by the ISSF, and has proven itself to be fully transparent in its practices (Clover Leaf, 2014b).
It is important that consumers are aware of the provenance of the seafood they purchase, and that it is obtained using environmentally friendly fishing methods, ensuring the health of our oceans for future generations.
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WWF. (2014b) Smart Fishing. Retrieved October 25, 2014, from: