The ocean can feel a million miles away when you’re sitting at your desk in your home/office or reading the news on your mobile device. While 40 percent of Americans live along the coast, the ocean is a critical resource for every one of us no matter where we live — it provides the oxygen we breath, regulates the climate, is a source of food, employment and recreation, and contributes around $397 billion in goods and services to the U.S. economy per year. There are an ocean of reasons to care about the health of marine ecosystems, especially during June as we celebrate National Oceans Month in the U.S. and World Ocean Day on June 9 globally.

But the ocean is under threat. Recent headlines can feel overwhelming, and that hope for a more sustainable future may be out of reach. The good news is that businesses, non-profits, scientists and shoppers are coming together to take meaningful action to protect the ocean and are making a positive impact — starting with the food on our plates. "Blue foods," or food derived from aquatic animals such as fish and shellfish that come from freshwater and marine environments, play a critical role in supporting human health, global economic health and, when managed sustainably, contribute to a healthy ocean.

Fish and fishery products are the largest traded food commodity in the world. Global capture — or wild-caught — fisheries produced 96.4 million tons, the highest level recorded, in 2018. More than one-third of U.S. consumers have increased seafood consumption over the last five years. However, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) reported in 2020 that over one-third of fisheries are operating at unsustainable levels. Therein lies the challenge: More people want to eat more seafood, but overfishing is a growing problem around the world, putting ocean health at risk.

Seafood has countless health benefits and is a critical source of nutrition for several billion people around the world. It’s more important than ever that fishing is done in an environmentally sustainable way so that this regenerative resource can continue to be productive to ensure healthy ocean ecosystems, and for future generations of seafood consumers.

Read the full article about conserving ocean foods by Erika Feller at GreenBiz.