170 billion pounds (77.9 million metric tons) – roughly three times the weight of everyone in the United States – is the amount of fish and shellfish taken from the oceans every year.

Did you know? Over a 50-year period, the annual world seafood catch has much more than quadrupled.

Our appetite for seafood and other fish products is growing and with more than 75 per cent of the world’s ocean stocks exploited (fished to maximum capacity, with little or no room for expansion), it seems possible we really can catch every fish. With an industry as huge as seafood, what can you do as an individual to make sure your favourite fish dish will be around for the next generation to enjoy?

Well, choosing sustainable seafood is one thing you can do.

Sustainable seafood means that species are fished and farmed using the best environmental practices so that fish stocks and aquaculture farms are healthy and will be around in the future. There are several ways individuals can support the sustainable seafood industry. Buying sustainably-certified seafood, such as by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), is one choice. The MSC works with fisheries, seafood companies, conservation groups, scientists and the public to promote sustainable seafood choices.

Did you know? Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans plans to establish a network of marine protected areas.

Whether it means using less destructive nets, or protecting marine habitats, sustainable seafood certifications help to ensure a “green” product from ocean to plate. (To learn more about sustainable seafood practices, visit the Marine Stewardship Council website).

Buying locally-caught seafood is another sustainable choice you can make. Not only will you be supporting your local economy but, locally-caught seafood requires less energy to be produced and is therefore more environmentally-friendly.

Did you know? Wild caught fish is in high demand; not only is it the world’s most important food source, it is also used as farm feed and even in many cosmetics.

So, become educated and learn about overfishing and which species are at greatest risk for over exploitation and depletion. A simple Google search will give you millions of hits on the subject.

Also, ask questions! Whether at a restaurant, a fish market, or your local grocery store, ask where the fish was caught and let them know that you prefer sustainable seafood choices. By choosing sustainable seafood you are promoting healthy oceans, which, in turn, is good for you!

Learn More!

National Geographic: Time for a Sea Change

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2008

To learn more about the Federal Marine Protected Area Strategy, see Canada’s Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy

A film about overfishing: The End of the Line


Susan is based in WWF-Canada’s St. John’s, NL office. As a Fisheries Conservation Advisor with WWF since 2007, she now manages WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative work in NL and works with local and international management authorities and the seafood industry to develop, promote and assist with effective implementation of fisheries improvement measures, specifically those related to the recovery of Atlantic cod stocks in the NL region and on the Grand Banks. Before joining WWF, Susan was the Chief Research Technician for the Fisheries Conservation Chair of Memorial University in St. John's and acted as an advisor for WWF-Canada. Susan received her Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology and Masters of Science in fisheries science at Memorial University. Susan's previous work and research publications include fisheries acoustics, reproduction and stock assessment studies of North Atlantic cod.

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