Have you ever wondered about the credibility of “organic” aquaculture? What about the effects of plastic waste on our seafood? Today on Rootstock Radio, host Theresa Marquez talks with Sheila Bowman, manager of Culinary and Strategic Initiatives for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. Trained as a marine scientist and passionate about conservation, Sheila’s current work focuses on educating and activating culinary audiences to help them make the best choices when purchasing seafood, and to demand environmentally sound fishing and farming practices.
The Seafood Watch Program compiles consumer guides that can be downloaded, printed, and referenced to help consumers make informed choices about seafood. “Over the last seventeen years,” Sheila says, “what we’ve done is build those lists, keep them up, and certainly add new fish and even plants as a way to keep it current and relevant to today’s food scene.” These guides are organized by region and especially important as, Sheila shares, there really is no “rule of thumb” regarding what responsible seafood consumers should buy and eat. “You do have to look up species-by-species,” she says, because it’s no longer a matter of simply comparing fresh vs. farmed fish—it really depends on where that fish is coming from.
In fact, Sheila says that “probably more than half of the fish we eat right now are farmed, whether it’s oysters or shrimp, tilapia or catfish.” With this in mind it’s imperative that we as consumers support responsibly-operated fisheries that keep things like the health of fish populations, fishing practices, management and habitat damage in mind.