(WASHINGTON – March 20, 2020) As American consumers and fishermen both grapple with impacts from the spread of the new coronavirus, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today urged U.S. consumers to look for new ways to add more healthy American-caught fresh fish to their diets.
EDF noted that in addition to being a healthy option, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other public health experts, seafood remains a safe option at grocery stores and for takeout at restaurants, since there is no evidence that food or food packaging have been associated with transmission of the virus.
“During this time of uncertainty, we can be certain that choosing healthy and fresh seafood caught in the United States for our next meal is a smart decision,” said Eric Schwaab, senior vice president for EDF Oceans program. “The U.S. has some of the healthiest and most sustainable seafood in the world. By seeking out domestically caught fish, Americans can support fishermen and the ocean during this difficult time.”
EDF and partners like the Monterey Bay Aquarium have developed tools consumers can use to choose healthy and sustainable seafood. The EDF Seafood Selector guides choices about which seafood to buy at stores or order as takeout. The Monterey Bay Aquarium also offers recommendations to help consumers choose ocean-friendly fish. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should be eating about 2-3 servings of seafood per week.
Many fisheries have been facing financial challenges due to climate change impacts and other headwinds. The new coronavirus is adding tremendous economic disruptions to the U.S. fishing industry as foreign markets close and supply chains are disrupted. This crisis comes at a particularly troubling time as many fishermen are preparing for the start of their seasons when they earn the bulk of their annual income.
As disruptions continue to occur, EDF encouraged consumers to seek out opportunities to purchase directly from fishermen and local seafood markets. In many fisheries around the country, fishermen, NGOs and supply chain actors are innovating to help increase fishermen’s market opportunities. Even the use of social media has proven extremely helpful for fishermen to keep in touch with consumers. For example, direct-to-consumer sales from boats landing at docks has proven to be an effective means in places like San Francisco and elsewhere around the country.
But the single most effective way for consumers to help fishermen through this crisis is by adding more domestic seafood to their diets. By doing so, consumers can not only help fishermen and coastal communities, but also contribute to healthier oceans, EDF said.
“By embracing smarter and more sustainable fishing, our fishermen have helped many of our fisheries go from federal disasters to thriving comeback stories in a short period of time,” Schwaab said. “Over the past 20 years, American fisheries have become some of the best managed and most sustainable in the world thanks to policy reforms and the hard work of fishermen. But now fishermen need our help. By incorporating more seafood into our diets, we can support fishermen and coastal communities that depend on seafood harvesting as a way of life.”