Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mainland China: Reflections on Global Seafood

Matt Thompson is a senior aquaculture specialist with the Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Programs (SSP). He is blogging from the Seafood Summit in Hong Kong. The Seafood Summit brings all those concerned with sustainable seafood together in a conference to identify challenges and look for solutions.   

After a grueling eight hour coach journey I returned to Hong Kong to prepare for an equally grueling 14-hour, carbon off-setted flight. The way back offers time (seriously, a whole lot of time) to reflect on what I’ve seen and heard on this trip.

We are, it seems at an important junction both in the World and in seafood. The role that the growing middle class in Asia will play in sustaining seafood is unclear. Will serving fish from vulnerable populations or farm stocks be perceived more prestigious and valuable since they are scarce resources, leading to further exploitation of aquatic resources? Or will it be perceived as disrespectful to the family, guests and the environment to serve unsustainable seafood becoming a driving force to accelerate improvement in fisheries management and aquaculture performance?

Whatever happens, back here in the U.S. we import 80% of our seafood, in Europe 50%, and a large amount of that is farmed (more on that here and here) or fished in Asia. It is likely that the local markets in these countries will reduce our ability to import fish and shellfish.

I believe we have an opportunity to expand our national aquaculture industry in an environmentally responsible way. We already produce a number of ocean-friendly options, including channel catfish, oysters, and clams. Equally important is improving practices and market-access of small-scale producers both domestically and abroad, such that we can meet our national needs and the future global demands, while preserving the environment and the socio-economic benefits of aquaculture.

This experience will inform the work of Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Programs and we will continue to take our opportunities so that our little aquarium on Central Wharf can have a big benefit on the seafood we eat and the ecosystems that produce it.

Many thanks for sharing these experiences with me!

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment