Knowing my new organic regime, a friend of mine sent me a note about a forthcoming documentary, End of the Line, (www.endoftheline.com), which challenges the consequences of continued over-fishing if we don’t act now. Imagine the world without fish, it asks, a question that doesn’t bear thinking about. More worrying still is that as Charles Clover makes his way around the world confronting those fisheries and restaurateurs with little regard for the damage being wrought, scientists go on to predict the end of fish and seafood by 2048.
It’s a global crisis no doubt, and figuring out what you can and can’t consume from our seas and oceans is part of the problem as there’s a general lack of awareness about the issue. So three cheers for the guys like Charles Clover who have taken the initiative to turn it into fodder for the masses by making a film out of it.
Spain is second only to Japan when it comes to insatiable fish demand. Both are rampant tuna consumers with blue fin being virtually battery farmed in the waters off Murcia in order to turn a huge profit in the gigantic fish auctions of Tokyo. Both countries are also guilty of fishing undersized species for what might be termed “thrill eating”.
But must of us love fish, and it’s hugely valuable to a healthy diet, so what’s the responsible answer, especially if you want to make it part of an organic diet? First arm yourself with a reliable list of good fish and bad fish.
One of the most reliable resources for Spain is Greenpeace (for endangered species specific to Spain see http://mercados.greenpeace.es/index.html). A damning report published in August 2008 showed that Spanish supermarkets have little or no regard for even minimal requirements of sustainability and the prevention of over-exploitation. Worse is that most of what you see on the supermarket wet counters is fish that also appears on the red alert list show above.
For a simple list of the good, the bad and the ugly check out the Environmental Defense Fund (www.edf.org). Reasonably safe choices are anchovies, clams if farmed, Pacific cod (longline), Pacific halibut, mussels, Pacific sardines, Alaska canned salmon, Albacore tuna (US or Canada), yellow fin tuna (US or Canada).
So what to do? The Marine Stewardship Council, (MSC, www.msc.org) is the most highly regarded in terms of setting an environmental standard with a distinctive blue eco-label, which so far, remains almost non-existent in Spain. Word is that several fisheries have undergone pre-assessment for certification, but it’s still very much in the hands of the consumer to demand more from our markets, supermarkets and restaurants.
In the meantime I’m applying the same 80/20 rules as for my organic diet. I’m doing what I can when I can, but I’m not going to come all over holier than thou if I’m going for sushi. Food is increasingly political and its only responsible to care, but a girl's got to have some fun. TS