Wild caught fish are an important protein source for much of the world. It is possible to have fisheries that provide human benefits while not harming ocean ecosystems. However history has shown that wild capture fisheries have been conducted in ways that hurt marine ecosystems.
By definition, wild fisheries will directly affect thousands of species worldwide simply by capturing them. In addition, fisheries indirectly impact tens of thousands of other species through bycatch, habitat damage, and indirect impacts caused by removing prey and predators from complicated food webs.
Wild fisheries are unique in that they require a healthy productive ecosystem in order to persist. A short sighted fishery focused merely on maximization of catch or profits simply cannot exist. In many cases a thriving fishery is a sign of a healthy ecosystem.
Many of the world’s fisheries are now starting to manage their fisheries with a broader ecosystem perspective in mind. The Seafood Watch assessment methodology SeaChoice uses is designed to assess a given fishery’s impact on the ecosystem that supports it.
The main ecological issues surrounding wild capture fisheries are associated with the species inherent vulnerability, their population size, catch of animals that are not being targeted, and impacts to seafloor habitats. Fisheries management can largely address these issues.
Sustainability Considerations for Wild Seafood:
Learn about the different fishing methods. The risk of environmental damage from fishing is often dependent on the type of fishing gear used.
Learn which seafood to buy or avoid