How to buy sustainable seafood in Australia

A nice video showing a sustainable way to catch fish in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia
According to the “Shop Ethical” guide:
Demand for seafood has doubled over the past 30 years; three-quarters of the world’s oceans are now fished right up to their limit. Often we’re eating rare or endangered ocean species without realising it. This includes shark, commonly sold as ‘flake’ in fish and chip shops; and species such as orange roughy, bluefin tuna, swordfish, and toothfish. ‘Bycatch’ – fish caught unintentionally – often sees up to 15 tonnes of discarded fish per tonne of targeted seafood.

When buying sustainable seafood you want to ask a few questions:

  1. Buy local. Ask where it’s from and if it’s imported ask for certified sustainable seafood.
  2. Consult a seafood guide. Use the the Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide or app to choose a fish that has been sustainably caught and managed. For the best choice in tuna consult the Greenpeace canned tuna guide.
  3. Look for certified products from the Marine Stewardship Council (see below).

msc1

Good swaps

If you consult your Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, you’ll want to choose fish which are ranked “Green – Better choice”, such as Australian Bonito, Bream, Luderick, mullet, tailor and whiting.

Here are some of the more popular fish with their green – better choices:

  • Calamari – choose Squid, calamari, cuttlefish and octopus 
  • Crab – Blue Swimmer (Sand) crab, Mud crab
  • Mussels – Blue Mussels, also better choice is Green Mussel imported from New Zealand
  • Salmon – Imported canned salmon, predominantly Sockeye (Red) and Pink Salmon
  • Tuna – Australian Bonito, Better choice: troll or poll and line caught Albacore Tuna and Skipjack Tuna

Seafood guides

For choosing a sustainable fish consult one of the following resources:

Garage Warrior

garbage-warrior

The bottles, you know, are jewels. This is garbage and it comes out like stained glass jewels.

– Garbage Warrior

Garbage Warrior is the story of radical Earthship eco architect Michael Reynolds, and his fight to build off-the-grid self-sufficient communities. What an inspiring visionary. I love the sustainable buildings the group creates out of recycled materials – the houses have so much character and are just beautiful.

Book review: Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide

amcs-seafood-guide

The Australian Marine Conservation Society has released a handy little booklet on choosing seafood wisely called ‘Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide‘. Sustainably sourced fish allow the species to repopulate and live a good life. It is a beautifully illustrated and informative guide.

Here’s a quick run down of your options:

The best choices

  • Blue swimmer crab, sand crab
  • Calamari, squid, octopus, cuttlefish
  • Mussels, blue mussels
  • Oysters, native, Sydney rock and Pacific oysters
  • Salmon
  • Sardine, pilchard
  • Trevally, black, giant, golden, bluefin and bluespotted trevally
  • Whiting, trumpeter, stout, sand, eastern school, western school, king george whiting

Think twice – heavily targeted or caught using fishing methods that damage natural habitat

  • Basa, Pacific dory, mekong catfish
  • Barramundi, barra
  • Blue-eye trevalla, blue-eye cod
  • Flathead, Bluespotted, dusky, tiger and southern sand flathead
  • Nile perch, Lake Victoria perch
  • Ocean perch, blue-eye, reef ocean perch
  • Prawns, banana, king and tiger prawns

Say no – over-fished, threatened or vulnerable

  • Atlantic salmon, Tasmanian, Smoked salmon
  • Blue Grenadier, Hoki
  • Blue Warehou, Black travally, sea bream
  • Gemfish, hake
  • Hake, Cape hake, Pacific hake, South Atlantic hake,
  • Orange roughy, deep sea perch
  • Shark, flake
  • Southern Bluefin tuna, tuna
  • Tuna, Skipjack, albacore, yellowfin tuna

You can download a free copy of the mini sustainable seafood guide (PDF) on the Sustainable Seafood website.

Book review: The Urban Cook by Mark Jensen

the-urban-cook

The Urban Cook by Red Lantern chef, Mark Jensen focuses on cooking and eating for a sustainable future. You may be familiar with him from the television show Ready Steady Cook. The book features over 100 modern seasonal recipes, often with an Asian bent.

There is a generous proportion of vegetable based recipes and I would have liked this section split into sides and mains. It features recipes for Eggplant and mozzarella bake; Zucchini, tomato, olive and feta gratin (using Poor Man’s Parmasen); and Chinese cabbage, fried noodle and black pepper salad. A sample recipe is available for Marinated summer radishes with currants, mint and chive dressing (PDF).

The Meat and Seafood sections contains recipes such as Yabbies cooked in tomato, chilli and black pepper sauce; and Lamb breast rolled and stuffed with mince, pine nuts and coriander. Mark Jensen says: “Yabbies are a great sustainable alternative to prawns. They are farmed in inland ponds, and any waste they produce can be filtered from the water and used to fertilise the land.”

He recommends using The Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide to help you make a wise shopping choice.

Mark also encourages us to use all parts of the animal, and uses secondary cuts of meat in recipes such as Beef cheeks braised in beer with aromatic spices; and Gremolata crumbed deep fried lamb’s brains.

Finish in the Dessert section and be tempted by Chocolate roulade with hazelnut cream; or an Asian fruit salad with agar agar jellies and coconut cream.

The Urban Cook – buy on Amazon.com
The Urban Cook – buy on Fishpond.com.au
– by Mark Jensen

Balancing act

Trying to be self-sufficient is about juggling a number of different factors.

First of all you need to sow the right plant at the right time. It helps to purchase your seeds and plants from a local supplier as they will have already adapted to the climate and conditions of your area.

Grow produce that you like to eat. I know it sounds obvious, but we were putting a lot of effort and time into growing food we didn’t like because it was healthy and we were following a plan. We ended up giving bagfuls away to friends and family. Grow the things that you use the most often, including herbs.

If you choose plants that yield over a long period of time, you can prevent a glut. The modern hybrids are bred to get to market in one hit, so give preference to the heirloom varieties. If you can stagger your planting of a particular crop over a number of weeks you will also spread out your harvesting time (known as successive sowing).

You need to grow enough to allow for some losses. You may lose plants to pests and diseases, sudden changes in the weather (drought or flooding) and sometimes birds and the local wildlife. To allow for these losses you can grow a variety of different plants and species, that way you don’t put all your eggs in one basket or as I like to say “don’t put all your seeds in one pot”.

It’s better for your health and the environment to practise organic and sustainable methods of gardening. Use crop rotation to prevent diseases and pests from building up. Try companion planting.

Make gardening easy – plan out your space so that you have what you need close by. Put your vegetable patch and fruit trees near your water source. Consider perennials and self-sowing plants to make some of your edible area low maintenance.