What’s for dinner? It’s a global question asked every night by people, but few ask, is it sustainable? Fish often finds it way to the dinner plate. Fish is a favorite food because it is brain food and low in calories helping to keep us healthy and in shape. However, most of us don’t think about the consequences of what we eat. The thought of whether of not our dinner plate is sustainable does not even cross the average mind. In the USA, you can pretty much eat anything you want anytime of the year.
For most anglers, the ability to catch a fish and then eat it is a very rewarding experience. Unsustainable commercial fishing practices threaten this tradition. For thousands of years, man has hunted for his dinner but without strong marine conservation programs, many game fish face extinction. Catch and release programs and sustainable fishing practices are implemented to protect vulnerable fish populations.
Tuna is one of the best examples of the overfishing problem. Found in temperate and tropical waters, Tuna is one of the most commercially valuable fishes in the world. Overfishing, particularly of bluefin tuna has led to a collapse of the species. As of yet, there is no sign of permanent recovery. Increasing fishing efforts over the last 50 years coupled with commercial fishing practices are precipitating the collapse of many fish sock and marine habitats. Climate change is compounding the problem of destabilizing fish populations and marine life. No longer can we consider the ocean a limitless bounty of food.
With oceans covering 70% fo the earth’s surface, it is estimated that 1 million species live in the coral reefs and 10 million live in the deep seas. Ecosystem based management’s goal is to balance the social and economic needs of human communities with the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. Currently, 76% of the world’s fisheries are fully fished or overfished. There is a great concern that the oceans can’t keep up with these growing demands. Implementing sustainable commercial fishing practices while also curtailing the world’s demands for fish are both significant factors in protecting the oceans fishing populations.
Illegal fishing is another major problem depleting fish populations especially for shark fins in Costa Rica. This small country is riddled with illegal fishing problems as are other places in the world. These new pirates, comprised of American and Asian fleets, are difficult to stop and regulate. It will take major international efforts to curtail this problem throughout the world.
However in Costa Rica, sustainable fishing policies around snapper are an example of successful resource management of fishing populations. Responsible Costa Rican fishermen are catching snapper and then selling them to local hotels and restaurants, which supports the local economy. This practice also benefits the tourism industry that Costa Rica’s economy is largely dependent on. Through this local exchange fishermen are able to maximize their profit at a fair market price, and able to generate income and stay out of debt. The prospect of eating a sustainable meal is preferred for many of the eco-minded visitors who come to Costa Rica every year. Crocodile Bay supports ecotourism and remains committed to encouraging sustainable practices. These practices are followed by the world’s best eco-resorts.
In other words, knowing that what is on your dinner plate is sustainable benefits everyone from the marine life to the businesses to the consumer. Next time you ask: What’s for dinner? You might want to follow-up with a second equally important question, is what’s on my plate sustainable?