No it isn\’t

Wild seafood is tasty, sustainable – and free.

Tasty I\’ll grant you. Sustainable I won\’t. Whether a common resource is in fact sustainable or not depends on the demand for that common resource. Wild seafood is no more sustainable than fisheries, pastures, oil reservoirs or water aquifers. Sustainability depends solely on the question of whether demand for the resource is lower than the regeneration capacity or not.

There have been plenty of wild seafood resources (cod in the North Sea or the Grand Banks for example) which turned out to be no so sustainable.

As to the free:

It\’s dark. And cold. Even colder when we start prising mussels off a disused jetty and scooping oysters, clams and whelks out of the freezing waters in dim torchlight. Most of the oysters are the New Zealand dredging variety introduced experimentally to Welsh waters by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food some years ago to see how they would fare.

"They flourished," says Swainston. "Our native oysters were practically wiped out long ago by over farming and disease."

Soon, our hands are frozen, I\’ve nearly lost my wellies in the muddy sand and Chris can\’t feel his feet. Seashore foraging requires you to work hard for your supper but we manage to fill a large bucket with mussels, cockles, clams, winkles, whelks and oysters.

A very odd definition of free, don\’t you think? As economists like to point out, the cost of something is what you give up to get it. A few hours labour in the freezing cold (and having given up the opportunity to stay in a nice warm bed) just ain\’t "free".

1 thought on “No it isn\’t”

  1. Just visit the graveyard in any fishing village and check out the memorials if there is any illusion in your mind about seafood being free. The price of fish is not trivial.

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