Finding A Sustainable Fish Stick


Insufficient quotas haven't helped North Atlantic cod

Here in Sweden fiskpinnar (fish sticks) are on nearly every restaurant's children's menu from south of Stockholm to above the Arctic Circle. But today came the alarming news from WWF that north Atlantic cod, that fish stick staple, is in worse shape than ever(warning: Swedish link), especially in the Scandinavian waters of Skaggerak and Kattegatt between Denmark and Sweden. Sweden's announcement that domestic fishing quotas for cod would be lowered 8 percent next year was not even one-third of the 25 percent cut some scientists recommend (others say a total fishing ban is needed). WWF warned that North Atlantic cod could be exactly in the spot where Canadian cod was before it disappeared from the water and our plates in the 1990s.

This dire news could turn anyone off the idea of fish sticks for dinner. But some experts say giving up on fish totally is not the answer. Hit the jump for some suggestions:WWF fishy expert Inger Näslund says buying MSC-certified and organically-certified fish is a still a very good idea, as it's one way to reduce illegal fishing. The extensive chains of custody put in place for certification make cheating on quotas harder, and this in turns help healthy stocks stay sustainable.

Any search for a good fish for dinner could start at the WWF list of country-specific green/yellow/red pocket fish charts here; of special note is the fishonline site, a real treasure chest of info. There's also the treehugger TV segment on finding good fish here.

In the case of cod, it is Atlantic cod that is in worst shape, but Näslund points to two bright spots - KRAV organically-certified line-caught cod is coming to Sweden next spring, and Näslund hopes Norwegian Bering Sea cod will consider getting certified. Pacific cod is not in as bad shape as Atlantic cod, and last year MSC certified a Pacific Cod (mostly available frozen). Though any farmed fish can create more environmental problems than it solves, farmed cod with organic certification is also a good choice. And one choice for MSC-certified packaged (pollock) fish sticks is Henry and Lisa's, or make your own from certified fish - here's a kid-friendly recipe. And don't despair - though it is harder (and takes longer) to create a chain of custody for certified fresh fish, fresh choices are coming to market - Näslund said Germany and the UK are furthest ahead in this endeavor, and it is worth it to keep checking the fish counters at favorite markets.