One of the questions people often ask about CAFC is what do we mean by "sustainable"? "Sustainable" is defined as capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment. And by that definition, the fish we get are in fact sustainable. All of the stocks of fish that we purchase are not considered to be "overfished". In addition according the best and latest science, the stocks of fish that CAFC delivers are all growing.
But, just because a population of fish is growing does not necessarily mean that the fishing is sustainable. Some would argue that the way fish are caught is an important consideration of sustainability. The concern is that some fishing methods may do long term damage to the environment. These concerns usually focus on draggers, by-catch and extreme overfishing.
The draggers we buy fish from are fishing with a 5 inch mesh size, which is one of the largest mandated mesh sizes in the world. The large size of the mesh allow smaller fish to escape the net. Additionally it is not always clear that draggers "damage" the seafloor. It is certainly true that they can damage the seafloor, but it is also possible that small draggers may enhance an ecosystem by in effect 'tilling' the soil. More research needs to be done in this area, but as one fisherman said recently about the ecofriendliness of nets vs. hook and line, "There is no more indiscriminate killer in the ocean than a baited hook."
Here's a good take on how dragger fishing can be minimal impact.
One of the other key factors for sustainable harvesting of seafood really falls at the feet of the regulators who set the catch limits. Fishermen in the US fish under some of most restrictive rules in any fishery in the world. One of the things we can all agree on is that until the industry is rewarded for making changes to fish more sustainably, the status quo will prevail. So while we believe our program is sustainable, there is no question that making fishing more sustainable can happen if regulators create rules and laws that reward fishermen for fishing in area and with gear that results in decreasing long term negative impacts to ecosystems. We beleive that CAFC is a program that shows people care about sustainability, rewards sustainable fishing and encourages sustainable fishing. What do you think? Post a comment and let us know what you think about sustainability.