Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Exactly Is In that Fish Sandwich?

Companies like McDonalds, Dennys and Long John Silvers are likely to be forced to locate an alternate fish source in the near future as the hoki fish in New Zealand takes a nose dive in population.

As reported in the New York Times last Thursday the fish, found primarily about a half mile below the surface off the costs of New Zealand, is declining in population rebirth. This fact has many environmental agencies, most notably the Blue Ocean Institute (BOI) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), on edge because the fishery was considered sustainable.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) even granted the fishery a prestigious certification back in March of 2001 noting it as being well managed as well as sustainable. When this new news surfaced the WWF attempted to block recertification but the MSC granted it regardless in 2007.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

The world’s insatiable appetite for fish, with its disastrous effects on populations of favorites like red snapper, monkfish and tuna, has driven commercial fleets to deeper waters in search of creatures unlikely to star on the Food Network.

One of the most popular is the hoki, or whiptail, a bug-eyed specimen found far down in the waters around New Zealand and transformed into a major export. McDonald’s alone at one time used roughly 15 million pounds of it each year.


Wow. That sure is a lot of fish. And that is just for one restaurant. No wonder the population decreased, it appears this particular species has been over fished. In fact the tons per year that New Zealand allows to be fished decreased from 275,000 in 2000 to just 100,000 in 2008. That is a decrease of almost 22,000 tons per year.

Not only has there been a rapid reduction in the number of available fish to capture, there has also been evidence found of ecosystem damage and the unintentional killing of other air and marine life such as sharks, albatross, petrels, fur seals and skates.

Because so much attention was raised in regard to this issue, restaurants like McDonalds, Dennys and Long John Silvers have drastically cut back on their consumption of hoki fish.

It is more important than ever to ensure our food comes from reliable, sustainable sources. When it comes to fish the BOI is a wonderful resource as they rate a large array of fish on this very scale (among other factors).

Before it is consumed we should all know where and how it is sourced.

1 comment:

ecokaren said...

I read this article in the NY Times last week and I was concerned about my contributing to hoki overfishing because I love McDonald's fish sandwiches. I can eat two of those when I'm hungry. I don't eat them that often but still, I want to be aware of where my food comes from and sustainability.

So I was glad to read that they are using other types of fish more and more, like whitefish, for their fish sandwiches and not as much hoki.

Now, am I going to read about over fishing of whitefish and its environmental impact soon? *sigh*