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Food

What happens when we run out of fish?

How aquaculture can help to stabilize seafood supply

From fast-food restaurants to fine-dining establishments, diners everywhere call for seafood while dining out. Popular protein choices in the casual and upscale arenas, fish and seafood will always have a place on menus. However, there is one obstacle that could stop the growth of these menu items and their subsequent revenue—what happens when we run out of fish?

Fish supplies are consistently monitored to ensure overfishing doesn’t affect the overall fish population, and sustainability efforts have been being updated regularly to ensure maximum effectiveness. One such method that’s increasingly used is aquaculture, or farmed fish. And

with 65% of consumers eating seafood at least once every three months (with many eating it more often than that), according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report, it’s easy to see why operators have looked for sustainable and affordable alternatives to wild-caught seafood.

Going green to save the blue seas

Food’s impact on the environment is a deciding factor for what many people eat, according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report. 41% of consumers say they don’t want habitats negatively impacted by their seafood choices, for instance. Placing limitations on commercial fishing can help protect supply; similarly, movements to eliminate plastic in the ocean can help to reduce consumer waste impact on fish populations. But beyond keeping oceans cleaner, finding alternative habitats for fish to thrive is another way to secure sustainable populations.

Price volatility

Seafood prices are not going down, due in part to growing consumer demand for these items. What’s driving this popularity? More than half of customers feel that seafood is healthier than beef and pork, according to Technomic’s Seafood & Vegetarian report. With the health halo solidly in place, diners’ nutritional preferences play a big part in the demand for seafood—in other words, as more consumers want healthier options, operators must find new, sustainable ways to keep up with demand.

The aquaculture alternative

Sustainable fishing practices with minimal impact will make the difference. Over half of diners are more inclined to buy farm-raised seafood, and 21% of those are willing to pay more for it, according to Technomic’s Seafood & Vegetarian report. Farmed fish, for instance, is one way to help pad the supply in a sustainable way.

Aquaculture fish, or farmed fish, offers an array of benefits. First, making use of designated waters builds safeties into the sourcing of fresh fish. Using farmed fish is helping make up for the potential shortage of supply that may be caused by fishing quotas on wild-caught species. It helps operators by providing additional source for the fish—after all, with fishing quotas set on wild-caught seafood, operators have to find an alternative. Otherwise, they’d have to take fish completely off the menu, and that’s not what anyone wants.

Aquaculture provides a viable, successful solution for the limited supply of wild-caught options, and because it’s often thought of as the healthier option, it’s beneficial for operators to menu it, as well. Job growth in aquaculture also benefits the sustainability of this newer segment of farming. Accountability, investment in local farm projects and increased reliance on aquaculture fish ensure that there’s still adequate supply for restaurants and consumers, even with fishing quotas.

As efforts for increased sustainability only get more comprehensive, operators can look to the future without worry, knowing that there are alternatives to serving wild-caught fish. Aquaculture fish provides a healthy, sustainable and delicious solution for the limits on using wild-caught seafood.

This post is sponsored by High Liner Foods

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