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Step up to the plate

Most of you are aware that overfishing, coral bleaching, coastal development, oil spills and waste disposal are all detrimental to our world’s oceans. If not, then you have clearly been living in our land-locked state for far too long. Just for a minute I would like to focus solely on overfishing since we, as consumers, can help turn the tide (no pun intended). A study performed by MSNBC predicts a near total collapse of all ocean fisheries by 2050 if current trends persist, meaning there will be no “Finding Nemo” for future generations. To combat this, it is essential we become more informed about purchasing seafood.

To help this issue, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has put together a simple pocket guide specific to regions that can be downloaded at www.seafoodwatch.org (Central U.S. pictured below). These pocket guides contain straightforward, color-coded categories that divide fish into Best Choice, Good Alternatives and Fish to Avoid, aiming to promote sustainable seafood-eating practices. If pocket guides aren’t really your thing, no need to worry — there is an app for that. The “Seafood Watch” app recommends ocean-friendly seafood and sushi while also allowing you to search fish species to learn under which category they fall.

Additionally, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has established a strict set of criteria for fisheries to follow in order to achieve MSC’s “sustainable stamp of approval”. This certification enables consumers to both recognize sustainable fisheries and to harness our purchasing power by supporting MSC-approved products. The “MSC Seafood Finder” app enables its users to browse countless species, brands and types of products (oils, canned, frozen, fresh, etc.) to determine if what is being purchased is in fact sustainable. Please do not be fooled by the countless other bogus “certifications” out there and look for the MSC label; it’s the real deal.

Most importantly, we can support sustainable seafood efforts with a simple click of the mouse; yes, I’m talking about liking the mentioned organizations on Facebook or following them on Twitter. Utilize these apps when grocery shopping at Coborn’s or choosing between salmon and walleye at Anton’s in Waite Park. Fisheries will fight as many catch regulations as the government tries to implement, but we, as consumers, need to increase the demand for sustainable products to see a change in the marketplace.

I am not asking you to boycott seafood altogether, I enjoy beer battered halibut and shrimp tacos just as much as the next Bennie and Johnnie. Nevertheless, if we want our kids to even have the opportunity to experience the ocean and its many resources as each and every one of us has, we must do something now. Environmental concern must foster environmental action.