Instructions for eating fish without (too much) environmental damage


Oysters, langoustines, smoked salmon or pan-fried scallops this year? The question will inevitably arise when developing holiday menus. Another question will emerge less readily: can we still consume fish, shellfish and crustaceans in a good ecological conscience?

Many French people have stopped, or greatly reduced, their meat purchases, without ever considering giving up seafood. Quite the contrary! Natural, endowed with undeniable nutritional qualities, a good source of protein for little lipids (if it is chosen lean), therefore a star in diets, and officially prescribed by the national health authorities, at the rate of two weekly doses, the fish fulfills always more plates. In sixty years, the consumption (average, per person) of seafood has almost doubled in France (from 18 kg per year in 1960 to 34 kg) and in the world (from 9 kg to 19 kg). Demand is rising, the oceans are emptying.

Fishing, ever more intensive and industrialized, affects biodiversity and marine ecosystems, which are also subject to the stresses of climate change, pollution and acidification. Proof of the depletion of the fishery resource: despite the power and the increasing technicality of the world fishing armada, the tonnages withdrawn (some 90 million per year) have not increased since the end of the 1980s. of the United Nations for food, half of the world’s stocks are at the maximum exploitation limit; a quarter collapsing or already exhausted. How, at the fishmonger or the hypermarket, limit environmental damage?

  • What you should know (to do well)

A boat returning from fishing.

“Fishing is a gathering activity that is carried out on a wild stock”, recalls Stéphan Beaucher, independent consultant in fisheries management policy. To reduce the impact, the French, large consumers of seafood (4e European rank), should theoretically orient their purchases according to four criteria:

The fishing method used. Trawling, especially when it comes to bottom trawling, is a disaster for the seabed. He is also non-selective in his catches. Line, trap or longline fishing (cable fitted with about a hundred hooks) does not have as much impact on ecosystems.

The state of stocks. The quantity of fish of the same species present in a given location fluctuates extremely over time and according to the geographic areas of capture. One thing is certain, for the international NGO Oceana: “The Mediterranean is the most overfished sea in the world. 90% of stocks are fished above sustainable levels. “

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Instructions for eating fish without (too much) environmental damage