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Sustainability News

Food Systems Director's Blog

September 13, 2018

By Kathleen Merrigan

Swimming scallops? That’s surprising! It’s also surprising how often seafood is left out of conversations about sustainability and food. That’s why we included this photo of swimming scallops on our website, and why we make it a point to include seafood in our thinking about sustainable food systems.

Seafood makes up the primary protein source for over one billion people, and sustainable fishing is one of the most important things we can do to feed the world and conserve the oceans. Scallops and other bivalves are not only a sustainable option, they actually improve water quality and rebuild coastal habitats. Unlike mussels and oysters, scallops spend their lives resting on (rather than attached to) the seafloor, ready to swim away from predators. They use their adductor muscle to flap their shells open and closed, creating enough momentum to fly off the sand and into the water.

Farmed scallops are a “Best Choice” seafood option, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Seafood Watch gives you all the information you need to be an informed consumer when buying seafood, including being aware of where the fish is coming from, how it was harvested, and what species are more sustainable than others. With about two thirds of global fish stocks either at or over sustainable harvest levels, choosing seafood responsibly is vital for protecting the future of the oceans.

I was lucky enough to visit Bergen, Norway this month where I visited large netted salmon farms and bivalve operations and spoke with fishers, scientists, and chefs. This is a photo of some scallops at a bivalve operation, looking beautiful just before I ate them. So nice to enjoy food for its taste and sustainability!

Seafood is an important part of any sustainable food system, and it’s exciting to see innovations like shrimp from Minnesota, restorative kelp farming, and blockchain tuna. What will be the next innovations, and how can policymakers and businesses foster creative solutions for sustainable food?

Follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter to stay in the know as we tackle these questions and more at the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems.