The state of our oceans

Trawl catch

A trawl catch.

Credit: Mike Gerner/AFMA

Scallop dredge

A scallop dredge after being dragged along the bottom of the sea floor.

Credit: Mike Gerner/AFMA

Tuna in tow

A school of Southern bluefin tuna swim in a tuna fishery tow cage.

Credit: Getty images

Japan Tuna Market

Fishmongers check the quality of meat on frozen tuna fish before trading at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market.

Credit: Getty Images

Hammerhead killed in net

A hammerhead shark is fatally caught in a gill net.

Credit: Getty Images

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Seafood you can feel good about

The success of conservation groups in making the public aware of issues like sustainability and bycatch, Symington argues, has created a new challenge for conservation groups and retailers.

"We have almost become a victim of our own success,'' he says. "The more consumers get informed, the more detail we have to give them yet it isn't easy to simply say things are black or white."

Even though the issue of buying sustainable seafood is complicated, all hope is not lost for the fish-loving consumer. Some 94 fisheries around the world are accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council, which checks that products are from sustainable sources and that fisheries minimise environmental impact and have effective management structures in place.

Australia has three fisheries certified under the scheme; the Australia mackerel icefish, the Lakes and Coorong fishery in South Australia and the Western Australia rock lobster fishery. All together, 67 products available in Australia now carry the organisation's label, including imported New Zealand hoki, North Sea herring and South African hake.

Alongside the Greenpeace canned tuna guide, the most comprehensive tool for anyone buying fresh or frozen seafood is the AMCS's latest Sustainable Seafood Guide. More than 100 species are graded to advise shoppers if their seafood is a 'better choice' or whether they should 'think twice' or simply 'say no'.

"Some people are giving up fish completely because the issue is so complicated. They see the simplest way to go is to stop eating it altogether. But our guide shows there are fish which are safe and sustainable," says AMCS marine campaigner Ben Birt.

"Given that fish is a finite resource, I think we should see it almost as a bit of a luxury. The world's population can't keep eating fish every day. If we did, there'd be none left."

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