Eat Your Way to a Healthier You, Me, Country, and Planet

October 01, 2019

Dr. Michael Rubino, Senior Advisor for Seafood Strategy at NOAA Fisheries, discusses why seafood is good for our health, nation, and planet.

Seafood on ice

Seafood on ice at the market. Credit: Shutterstock

October often conjures images of colorful trees and pumpkins, but it’s also National Seafood Month—the perfect time to include more seafood into your diet!

rubino_750x500.jpg

Dr. Michael Rubino is the Senior Advisor for Seafood Strategy at NOAA Fisheries

Seafood is delicious, nutritious, and the most environmentally responsible animal protein option you can eat. Seafood is central to a healthy population and a healthy planet.

Let’s look at your health first. Seafood is important for neurological and cardiovascular health, with U.S. medical studies demonstrating its benefits. Federal nutrition guidelines show Americans need to at least double the amount we’re eating.

Then, there is the environment. This is personal for me. I want to help improve our planet for my children and grandchildren. That’s another reason I’m so passionate about seafood. U.S. wild or farmed seafood is an environmentally efficient way to produce protein. It takes little feed, fuel, or space to grow or harvest seafood relative to many other forms of protein.

On the wild side, the United States boasts one of the most dynamic, accountable, and innovative wild-capture fishery management systems in the world. Our fishermen abide by the most robust stewardship laws. Evolving over the past 40 years, the results of our science-based management system are staggering. We have rebuilt 45 stocks since 2000 and overfishing and overfished stocks are at historic lows. However, many rebuilt species have lost their place in the market to cheaper imports. Buying American helps put sustainably sourced seafood back on our plates and rewards our fishermen for their hard work and accountability to sound practices.

While we pull a lot of wild fish out of the water, it’s not enough to meet national seafood demands. Not to mention, the global population is growing. Recognizing this, NOAA and our partners advanced science and technology to evolve farmed seafood into the modern, environmentally-responsible, and healthy option it is today. But the U.S. doesn’t grow enough of our own seafood to meet even current demands. We largely rely on imports. About half of those imports are farmed in other countries. We could be farming much of that seafood, which would create localjobs from coastal communities to the agricultural heartland.

The good news is that the United States is a leading innovator in modern aquaculture science and technologies. We have rigorous environmental and labor laws and vast untapped ocean territory. We have ample opportunity to grow more seafood responsibly. Doing so will continue U.S. leadership in sustainable seafood production. What’s more, we care beyond our own nation. NOAA Fisheries is also active in the international arena, working to learn from innovators and to encourage the use of sustainable practices, standards, and technologies in other nations.

As Senior Advisor for Seafood Strategy at NOAA Fisheries, I urge you to eat more seafood: it’s good for you, good for your community, and good for the planet.

Learn more about U.S. sustainable seafood on FishWatch.gov

Dr. Michael Rubino is the Senior Advisor for Seafood Strategy at NOAA Fisheries