There’s a belief amongst consumers that the more eggs a crab has, the better tasting it is. The problem with that belief is, if we eat a crab with its eggs, considering each crab lays about a million eggs, we’re essentially killing off a million crabs,”

Hawis Madduppa, Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) at SDG Talks Vol. 3

If we to protect our planet, sacrifices have to me made even if its mean giving up our favourite seafood.

Have you ever thought whether your next seafood on your plate can contribute to protecting the future of our planet? Take a sizzling plate of Ikan Bakar (grilled fish) or fresh sashimi for example, do you know if they have been harvested with environmentally-friendly practices?

The 2018 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report, confirms a global trend toward unsustainable fishing. Thirty-three percent of global fish stocks are now overfished, a figure that is increasing year after year and which poses a threat to the marine ecosystem and food security for billions of people worldwide.

If this trend continues along with a growing global population, it is estimated that by 2050 fish stocks in Asia-Pacific region will collapse. So, it goes without saying that sustainable fisheries is more than a jargon invented by some development scientists; it is a critical way of living, particularly if you want to consume that sushi, sashimi or canned tuna that in the future.

Tackling this issue needs an all-around approach, thus our third SDG Talks: Eat and Protect! It’s Time for Sustainable Seafood explores this issue from the perspectives of consumer and industry with speakers such as Chef Agung Susanto (Hyatt Hotel), Swietenia Puspa Lestari (Divers Clean Action) and Hawis Madduppa (IPB University).

We all have a role to play in sustainable seafood, from those in industry, “it is important to bridge the science, government, business, and local fishermen and producers. For instance, the local fishermen should understand why it matters to catch fishes in particular size, and how the production volume should be achieved. We use the Marine Stewardship Council indicator to measure up our sustainability effort” says Madduppa, who is also the Executive Director of the Indonesia Blue Swimming Crab Fisheries Association.

One solution on the table is a certification programme for sustainable seafood products and its supply chain. UNDP Indonesia, through its Global Marine Commodities Project (GMC), is working on a partnership to promote sustainable fishing by improving management strategies, governance and minimise impact of the fisheries using the market-based economic incentives of eco-labelling mechanisms. In Indonesia, it was created in partnership between the Ministry of National Development Planning/Bappenas, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF). This initiative brings together all fisheries stakeholders to promote sustainable fishing, which also align with Indonesia’s pursuit in achieving sustainable development goal 14: life below water.

To consumers and their purchasing power, as pointed out by Chef Agung Susanto, “it is quite possible to encourage on sustainable fishing. Though sustainability and cost are influencing each other, we must introduce the sustainable seafood alongside with the freshness and the quality aspect”.

The issue of sustainability in fisheries also include threat from plastic pollution especially microplastics. Microplastics are very small fragments of plastics that are very harmful to the environment and difficult to clean up. “Recently, microplastic has been found in fishes.

Microplastic has two sources: first, it is a by-product of industrial waste, like microbead; second, it’s little pieces of broken single-use plastic. Finding these microplastics within fishes is deeply troubling as it will affect people who consume the fish” said Swietenia Puspa, Founder and Executive Director Divers Clean Action.

Divers Clean Action is an Indonesian youth NGO which focuses on marine debris issues, such as plastic pollution. It also conducts research with universities and a facilitator for coastal community development.

So how can we eat sustainable seafood?

Madduppa recommends to “ensure that you eat seafood in line with sustainability concept, we can start with by making sure the fish is not undersize and to avoid fishes with eggs. It will give time for fishes to multiply and grow”.

As well as be mindful of the amount packaging used which creates more solid waste and more likely to end up in the ocean Puspa mentions.

Making sustainable choices today means sustainable seafood for tomorrow.


Story by Kiana Bonnick.

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