Sustainable seafood is seafood from either fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the ecosystems from which it was acquired. The sustainable seafood movement has gained momentum as more people become aware about both overfishing and environmentally-destructive fishing methods. The North Atlantic swordfish population is at 105% of the optimum level for sustainability. In addition, fishery management regulations and harvest sizes are also maintained in a sustainable manner. In short, North Atlantic swordfish is a rare sustainability success story.
What is sustainability?
One way to understand sustainability is to think of it in terms of a bank account, such as a retirement account. Although the concepts are not completely identical, they are similar. In this example, the retirement money is placed in an interest-bearing bank account. This money is called the principal. Every year, an amount of interest (based on the principal amount) is earned. The owner of this account could spend up to the full amount of interest and not affect next year’s earnings. This is because the principal does not decrease.
The same concepts apply to sustainably managed fish populations. If annual harvest levels are set at or below replacement yield (the “interest”) the fish population (the “principal”) will remain at a healthy level indefinitely.
North Atlantic swordfish is one of the few species of fish that is harvested in a sustainable manner. Swordfish fishermen and fishery managers have and continue to work together to ensure a healthy marine ecosystem for generations to come.