The Truth About Sustainability
All food production has environmental impact, and seafood is no different. The good news is that True Fin seafood is one of the best choices for the environment.
Our seafood doesn't require the freshwater, soil, and greenhouse gas emission requirements that land-based food production, particularly large-scale animal protein production, requires. We could cite a plethora of data that supports this claim. Instead, we found this great resource thanks to the University of Washington that sums it up pretty well.
Of course, there are always ways to improve sustainability of food production, and our partners at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute do a lot of research, often in partnership with fishermen, to better understand and mitigate these impacts. This research includes studying and designing gears that are more selective and tagging studies to map fish behavior.
There is a lot of information out there about fisheries that deplete precious corals, have massive volumes of bycatch and discards, engage in slavery at sea, and more. These are sad realities in various parts of the world. But, Gulf of Maine fisheries are strictly regulated to prevent these unsustainable practices.
Fishermen in the Gulf of Maine are allowed a certain quota, or number of pounds of fish they may harvest for each species they catch. To go fishing, they must possess quota for anything they might catch. And, they must land all legal-sized fish they catch. Undersized fish must be re-released back into the water. To understand how much fish is discarded, fishery managers send observers on fishing trips to document discards. In lieu of physical observers, some fishermen choose to be monitored by cameras that record the duration of the trip and are audited. Based on the data collected by observers and cameras, managers calculate an assumed discard rate, which is subtracted from the fisherman's quota. Because assumed discards are subtracted from what a fisherman may land and sell, fishermen are motivated to catch as few undersized fish as possible.
To avoid small fish, harvesters use nets with large mesh sizes, or gaps. The minimum regulated mesh size is 6.5", and some Gulf of Maine harvesters use even larger meshes that allow small fish to escape the nets. They also avoid fishing in areas that have small, juvenile fish. Not only is this better for the environment, it saves fishermen time and money sorting through unwanted, unmarketable catch.
Responsible fishing practices are important to us and to our harvester partners. After all, if we deplete the very resource that sustains us, we won't have a sustainable business. Over the last 30 years, in particular, fishermen, research scientists, and regulators have taken a number of steps to understand and reduce the environmental footprint of commercial fishing for the benefit of the fish, fishermen, the ocean, and all of us who want a reliable source of healthy protein.