Fishing's Future Depends on Habitat
Many types of farmed seafood, particularly those grown in coastal net pens and ponds, come at the expense of sensitive and important coastal habitat. Where and how fish are farmed can make all the difference.
Farming at the Ocean's Edge
In many tropical nations, coastal mangrove forests provide habitat for a diverse array of marine organisms, protect the coast against storms and improve water quality by acting as a filter. Coastal communities often depend heavily on the services that mangroves provide but many mangrove forests have been cut down and replaced with ponds for shrimp farming. After a few years of intensive farming, the accumulation of waste products and chemical pollution could force the farmers to abandon their ponds, clear a new section of mangrove forest and rebuild—an unsustainable cycle that impacts local people and local ecosystems.
Young Fish Need Shelter
Coastal habitats are important for wild plants and animals—including fish—because they provide food and protection. Many kinds of fish rely on wetlands as nursery areas for their young and without these protected waters these fish may never mature and venture to sea. By locating fish and shrimp farms inland and restoring once-destroyed wetlands and mangroves, coastal habitats are recovering and, along with them, the plant and animal populations that call them home.
A Closed Case
Farms that are open to the environment or that divert wastes and chemicals into adjacent waterbodies can pollute the habitats they are sited in. This includes floating net pens or ponds that exchange water with the ocean.
Some fish farmers are working to develop closed systems to manage wastes. For instance, some shrimp farmers are beginning to "close" their systems, filtering the water in their ponds and composting wastes to keep them out of neighboring waters.
What You Can Do
Tuna travel the ocean. Some tuna populations are healthy and abundant while others are being fished faster than they can reproduce. Whenever possible, choose tuna caught by troll, pole or FAD-free purse seine. Tuna fished with these methods are generally a "Best Choice" or "Good Alternative" because they have very little bycatch.
Our printable guides are broken down by region so you can find ocean-friendly seafood wherever you live or travel.