Fish Consumption

Appeal for responsible fish and seafood consumption

Is farmed fish sustainable?

Beside wild-caught fish, there is farmed fish from aquaculture on the global market – currently about 64 million tons per year. In terms of ecology, this his makes sense for non-predatory fish, such as carp and tilapia, because they feed on aquatic plants, algae and small creatures. Trout, salmon, zander and other predatory fish, however, must be fed fish meal or fish oil. Paradoxically, conventional aquaculture often consumes more fish as feed than it produces. For some fish species such as salmon, breeders managed to reduce the contents of fish meal and fish oil in the feed, but as long as it is not from sustainable fishing, farming puts additional strain on wild stocks. Moreover, endangered fish species such as tuna are particularly difficult to breed. Aquaculture therefore is not a sustainable solution.

In non-organic fish farms, the animals are usually heavily crowded. Density stress and lack of activity are stressors that make the fish susceptible to diseases, which are then often treated with antibiotics and other drugs. OceanCare is committed to ensuring that aquaculture takes into account the natural behaviour of fish and their welfare. Still: keeping fish in enclosures does not correspond to their species-specific needs. Only life in the wild is appropriate.

Does eating fish benefit your health?

Fish contain harmful substances such as heavy metals, which particularly accumulate in the fatty tissue of large predatory fish (e.g. tuna). Farmed fish also contain harmful substances which they take in with their food. Fish are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, but these can also be easily obtained from algae products, linseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts or fungi. So eating fish is not necessary and in some cases even detrimental to your health. Find out more: factsheet Omega-3 fatty acids.

Is certified wild-caught fish a solution?

So far, none of the fishing labels stands for responsible fishing or fair trade, although both aspects are increasingly important for consumers. Even respected sustainability labels do not always keep what they promise. This is the conclusion of a study published in the renowned journal «Marine Policy». Nevertheless, a certified fish is better than a non-certified one. But the most sustainable way is to do without fish altogether.

What does OceanCare do?

For many years OceanCare has been advocating sustainable catch quotas and responsible fishing methods worldwide. Since 2016 OceanCare has been a partner organisation of the United Nations Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). This body is committed to safeguard and sustainably use marine resources. In Switzerland, OceanCare seeks dialogue with retailers so that they limit their range to sustainably obtained fish and seafood. OceanCare is also a partner of «Make Stewardship Count», a network that calls for urgently needed adjustments to the MSC Fisheries Standard.

How can you contribute?

Fish consumption can only be sustainable if it is not harmful to animals or the environment. Our behaviour is key. Here are some recommendations that may help you protect our fish and oceans:

  • When buying fish, choose local wild-caught fish.
  • Avoid marine fish or eat only sustainably caught fish once a month.
  • Although labels do not live up to their promises, it is still better to buy quality-labelled fish than non-certified fish.
  • Avoid krill, seal and fish oils. Farmed algae, linseed oil, rapeseed oil and many types of nuts are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, too.
  • Enjoy fish with a good of conscience: The association «Karpfen pur Natur» breeds carp in natural ponds and combines fish farming with nature conservation.