Jellyfish could replace fish and chips on new sustainable takeaway menus to help keep threatened species off the plate
- There are 92 endangered and 11 critically endangered sea creatures in meals
- Researchers say labelling doesn’t always require the actual species to be named
- Seafood listed as ‘flake’ or ‘fish’ on a menu could be from an endangered species
- The team have created a sustainable seafood guide to offer alternative options
Replacing fish with other types of ocean creatures such as jellyfish on takeaway menus could help save threatened species, according to a team of scientists.
Conservationists from the University of Queensland found that 92 endangered and 11 critically endangered species of sea creatures end up in meals worldwide.
Fishing for creatures that are threatened with extinction is legal in most of the world, the team said, adding that Europe and the USA are the biggest importers.
The team have called for tougher rules on seafood labelling as currently the label on cooked seafood doesn’t have to match the species.
Seafood items like ‘fish’ or ‘flake’ found on a menu – or products battered and filleted in a chip shop – could be from an endangered creature.
They have created a ‘sustainable seafood guide‘ designed to offer alternative edible options to endangered fish – such as the jellyfish which is common worldwide.
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Replacing fish with other types of ocean creatures such as jellyfish (pictured) on takeaway menus could help save threatened species, according to a team of scientists
Conservationists from the University of Queensland found that 92 endangered and 11 critically endangered species of sea creatures end up in meals worldwide
The guide ranks seafood options as a better choice, eat it less or just say no. Under the better choices are foods like the abalone, blue mussel and mud crab.
UK regulations only need fresh, chilled, and live fish to be labelled with its scientific and commercial name, but cooked fish can slip through the net.
Doctoral student Leslie Roberson and the Australia made the startling finding that endangered species were ending up battered and fried.
The seafood industry is tough to manage when it comes to conservation as it involved multiple global supply chains in international waters.
It also doesn’t have a global governing body, according to Robertson, who said you could have a fishing boat in Australian waters, owned by a Chinese firm, crewed by fishermen from the Philippines.
The globally process goes beyond just the actual fishing – one part of the fish might get processed in China, and the other can go to Europe.
‘We don’t know what we’re eating, it’s really hard to trace seafood back to its origin and species because the industry is such a mess,’ Robertson said.
UQ senior research fellow Dr Carissa Klein, is set to start further research on seafood consumption and find ways to make the industry more sustainable.
Klein’s work focuses on improving sustainability in Australia but says it could have national significance.
Researchers say products not obviously from one specific fish species – such as fish tacos (pictured) – don’t have to have the species on the label
The team want tougher rules on labelling and better regulation for the global fish trade – that currently operates across multiple jurisdictions without a governing body
‘Improving the sustainability of Australia’s seafood trade policies could significantly benefit the ocean worldwide,’ Dr Klein explained.
She said it would also help the billions of people around the world that depend on a healthy ocean for their health and livelihoods.
People wouldn’t consider eating endangered mammals or land animals, so why would they eat fish facing similar rates of extinction, Klein said.
‘We would never consider eating mountain gorillas or elephants, both of which are endangered.’
‘It should be illegal to eat something that is threatened by extinction, especially species that are critically endangered – if we can better coordinate fisheries and conservation policies, we can prevent it from happening.’
‘When importing seafood from other places, we are displacing any social or environmental problems associated with fishing to that place, which is likely to have less capacity to sustainably manage its ocean.’
The findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications.
CLIMATE CHANGE WILL MAKE OUR OCEANS MORE ACIDIC, BLEACH CORALS AND KILL OFF SPECIES
Climate change will contribute to ocean acidification, according to the National Ocean Service.
This change can be attributed to higher levels of greenhouse gases emerging as a result of human activities.
Climate change affects the ocean in a variety of ways.
It can cause sea levels to rise and coral in the sea to be smothered.
Climate change can also affect the ocean’s currents and cause ‘murky’ water conditions with reduced amounts of light, according to the National Ocean Service.
The organization has provided the following tips for lowering the amount of damage done to the oceans:
- Eat sustainable seafood.
- Refrain from dumping household chemicals into storm drains.
- Drive as little as possible.
- Print less.
- Help with beach cleanups.