The mother of fish, she is very nice, but she does not lay billions of offspring every year.

Logical consequence: the fishery resources are not inexhaustible.

“31% of fish stocks are overexploited.

In the Mediterranean, this figure climbs to 93%, ”reports the WWF association in a 2017 report. So how can you reconcile your appetite for fish and your desire not to harm the survival of species?

By adopting some very simple reflexes ...

Favor the consumption of "secondary" species

First of all, it is important to get rid of a number of misconceptions. The fact that a species of fish is sold on all stalls is not proof that its resources are inexhaustible. It is often the opposite. "Sea bass, monkfish and cod, which are consumed a lot in France, are regularly affected by overfishing," says Alain Biseau, fisheries biologist at the French Institute for Research for Exploitation of the Sea ( Ifremer). The first question to ask yourself is: is the species I want to consume threatened? And a quick search on the Net gives a first answer.

If this is the case, like bluefin tuna, deep-sea fish (black scabbard, blue ling, etc.) or even sharks, it is recommended to abstain.

"The ideal is to adopt a reasoned and diversified consumption to limit the pressure on the available stocks", explains Alain Biseau.

By turning in particular to groups of so-called "secondary" fish less sought after by consumers: "horse mackerel, mackerel, saithe or pout".

Origin, species and place of habitat: elements to consider

However, other criteria must be taken into account when setting your sights on a seafood product. First, the seasonality index, which corresponds to the period during which fish of the same species are in fish. sufficient number to ensure their renewal. Then, "the state of the stock of the species, the fishing technique used to obtain it and its impact on the habitat", lists Alain Biseau. Assessing the stock ensures that fishing pressure exerted on a species does not alter its reproductive capacity.

Since certain fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, generate significant damage to the marine ecosystem, it is advisable to promote the purchase of fish from sustainable practices such as line fishing or trap that help to reduce it. impact.

"Although this is not a guarantee of totally sustainable fishing", nuance Alain Biseau.

In addition, some species can be eaten without danger if they come from certain regions of the world but should be avoided if they are fished in others.

For example, “North Sea sole is the victim of overfishing and should therefore be avoided when purchasing.

On the other hand, it is ethically correct to consume sole from the Baltic Sea because the stocks are larger and the fishing is less intensive ”.

The question of labels

Since January 1, 2002, the production method and the origin of the species must be mentioned on the label of a fish-based product. For the more distracted, it is still possible to find their way around thanks to the labels (“Pavillon France”, “Pêche Durable MSC”, “Label Rouge”, etc.) intended to inform consumers about the conditions of production and capture species as well as to distinguish fisheries organizations that work in sustainable ways.

However, “labels are not perfect.

None are unanimous because they do not take into account all the necessary criteria.

But they are a good indication and encourage consumers to do their own research, ”emphasizes Alain Biseau.

Several NGOs have developed their "species guide" which allows to know whether the consumption of certain fish is or not without danger for the species.

Finally, simply asking your fishmonger or merchant remains a perfectly possible option.


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