“Sustainability” and “buying local” are more than just buzzwords here in Hawaii. They are the key to a healthy, environmentally friendly future in which we can become less dependent on imports and better stewards of our ‘aina.
But choosing sustainable, local options is not always easy, particularly when it comes to seafood. Competing facts, studies and warnings can cause confusion, and lower prices on foreign fish can lead to competition. Luckily, local non-profit Hawaii Seafood Council (HSC) has just launched a new website that will make the facts about seafood clearer and the case for local fish consumption stronger.
Hawaii-Seafood.org presents facts on the different types of fish found in Hawaii’s waters, from giving basic descriptions of each species to providing information on how they are fished. HSC even offers tips on how the fish are best prepared for consumption as well as facts about health and nutrition.
The website also makes a strong case for buying locally caught seafood. Not only can we support local fisherman and keep the money circulating in our communities, but we can also consume locally caught fish knowing that it has arrived via one of the most intensively studied, monitored and managed fisheries on the planet.
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, 70 percent of the world’s fisheries are being harvested at capacity or are in decline. As fisheries around the world are rapidly being depleted and, some, completely decimated, Hawaii has maintained high compliance with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, achieving a 94 percent compliance score. HSC reports that the strict management of our local fisheries includes strong scientific research and monitoring, fishing capacity caps, mandatory measures that limit protected species bycatch, habitat protection, and assessment and management of ecosystem impacts. So while warnings about overfished species are warranted, we can enjoy locally caught fish with a clear conscience.
And, according to HSC, we can also enjoy the health benefits. Fish is proven to be low in fat and sodium, high in protein, and ocean fish in particular contains other nutrients such as selenium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12. On their website, HSC provides detailed nutritional information for fish found in local fisheries.
HSC also gives insight into the Hawaii Fishing Industry style of hook and line fishing – no gill nets, trawl nets or seine nets are used – and highlights the important role that the auction system plays in keeping standards high, prices fair, and waste minimal.
Hawaii Seafood Council’s new website is making it easier to make more informed choices about seafood, and in turn, helping visitors and residents alike to support the local economy and a more sustainable future for our islands.