Stewarding Seafood Habitat
Habitat is critical factor in the wellbeing of the marine populations that we depend on for food. But it is normally absent from conversations about sustaining fisheries. Instead, both conventional fisheries management and consumer-based seafood campaigns have proceeded as if the only thing affecting the size of future fish stocks is the level of fishing that occurs today. We know this is not true: coastal development, watershed integrity, water quality, temperature, pH, salinity, and many other factors - both natural and manmade - affect fisheries in big ways, particularly those that spend part of their lives inshore. In an ecosystem approach, habitat is finally given its due.
Eating with the Ecosystem's habitat program aims to restore the severed conceptual connection between seafood and the place it comes from. We believe that every time a consumer purchases seafood, they should also receive empowering information about how to support that species' habitat.
Our goal is to produce educational materials in web and print form that can be distributed along with local seafood. Imagine going to a seafood counter to buy a some quahogs, and receiving a card informing you about estuary restoration efforts in your region. Imagine stopping by your local farmers market and picking up a pound of flounder, scanning the QR code on its wrapping, and learning about how you can advocate for benthic habitats and water quality. Imagine visiting your local lobsterman at dockside, and getting into a conversation about how you can help combat the root causes of climate change.
For too long, the role of the consumer in sustaining seafood populations has been limited to what they buy and what they don't buy. It's time to put tools in seafood lovers' hands that give them a role in restoring whole ecosystems -- starting with the habitat that underpins everything.
For an example of Eating with the Ecosystem's thinking on wild seafood-producing habitat, read our recommendations on seafood habitat for the Rhode Island Food Strategy.
*THIS PROGRAM ISN'T FUNDED YET. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP FUND IT, CONTACT SARAH@EATINGWITHTHEECOSYSTEM.ORG*