The earth's oceans are in deep trouble from many factors that allow the human species to arrive at the point we are at today. The simple message of this article is to elaborate on why each person who makes the very simple trade at the supermarket from tuna to anchovies would make the world's oceans a slightly more thriving ecosystem.
Oil refinery plants take a toll on the environment at Kurnell, Sydney.
Vegetarians are well aware that by eating lower on the food chain we are doing our planet some good. This does not mean that everyone has to stop eating meat. It certainly does not mean there is no place for seafood. What this does mean is that the more animals in existence, the more natural resources are needed in order to feed them all.
Small fish in art: Antonio Sicurezza, Still Life With Anchovies, 1972 (public domain).
For the oceans, a similar equation applies. At the bottom of the food chain you have plankton, neither vegetables or fish. They are the life source of the ocean. Small fish will eat plankton, and then be eaten by larger fish or sea/bird creatures. The way the tuna and big fish of delicacy status industries work, involves feeding lots of small fish to their fish to fatten them up, increase fish weights and hence their profit margins, because of the high demand and short supplies. The number of plankton necessary via all the food chain stages to fatten up one tuna fish could feed thousands of smaller fish. See what I mean?
Clearly I am not targeting all tuna or large fish industries. There are exceptions, and it is these sustainable efforts which should be praised and supported in the marketplace. One such pioneer brand in Australia is Safcol**. But as an unknowing consumer, there is so much choice out there.
The guide states, "It's simple, look for 'pole and line' canned tuna products and you will be making the right choice for our oceans. Try to avoid buying yellowfin tuna, and focus your choices on skipjack or albacore. Make sure the tuna you buy clearly has the species name, where it was caught, with the fishing method used written clearly on the label. Thankfully, you can now find a great variety of these products in every supermarket in Australia, and hopefully, from 2015, you won't be able to buy a bad option."
So what can anchovies deliver?
Protein to combat hunger
Omega 3 fatty acids for a healthy brain
Magnesium, calcium and phosphorous for strong bones
Great for improving heart health
High in iron, great for anaemics
Beware how they are packaged as canned anchovy brine are generally packed in with lots of sodium. You can combat this and reduce your sodium intake by rinsing the fillets or soaking them in cold water for 30 mins.
Get out there and enjoy some small fish in a sustainable way!
Kent Wang - Creative Commons.
** At the time of writing, click here for more information.