Guest Post/Call for Volunteers

Calling all academically inclined dumpster divers…
3.69 billion pounds of seafood to get to the bottom of!

As a researcher for fish and seafood issues at Food & Water Watch, I’ve recently begun pondering how food waste is affecting our fish stocks. In the fish world, we’re constantly thinking about the limitations of our wild fish stocks. There’s no doubt that we have overexploited fisheries around the world in order to keep our seafood buffets overflowing.

Some have suggested new types of aquaculture – a.k.a. fish farming – as a way to keep seafood availability up with demand. But before we turn to the more environmentally risky options, like putting jam-packed cages of fish offshore in the deep seas, wouldn’t it would be wise to start making better use of what we have?

According to the USDA, 31.4% of all the fish and shellfish available in 2005 (the most recent year of data) was wasted. That’s 3.69 billion pounds of edible seafood meat chucked in the trash!

These are some eye-opening numbers, but they’re based on abstract estimations, and as Rathje and Murphy say in their book Rubbish!, “To understand garbage you have to touch it, to feel it, to sort it, to smell it.” Mmm mm.

So let’s get to it! I want to find out how many uneaten pounds of seafood leftovers restaurants throw out every day.

Any students out there looking for a down and dirty way to get some research done – maybe for a term or thesis paper? Any restaurant owners willing to volunteer your trash? Let’s talk!

– – Justine Williams

Researcher/ Fish and Seafood Program / Food & Water Watch /

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