Saving the Oceans One Text Message at a Time

How many times have you whipped out your cell phone and texted a message that could help save the planet? Probably never, right? Well branch out from all those lols and xoxos and send a text to FishPhone.

FishPhone provides instant information about how environmentally friendly (or not) a particular seafood species is. The next time you’re ordering dinner at a restaurant or shopping at the seafood counter, try this: Text to 306-44 the word “fish” and then the name of the kind of fish you think you’d like to eat.

For example type in “fish salmon” and find out in a few seconds whether it’s harvested responsibly and whether there are any contaminants or other health concerns. What you’ll learn is that wild salmon from Alaska is among the best choices you can make if you care about the health of the world’s oceans; but farmed salmon carries significant environmental and health risks.

FishPhone was launched in 2007 by two conservationists at Blue Ocean Institute, Dane Klinger and Nick Hall who wanted to help consumers make more informed choices. The world’s supply of fish is being rapidly depleted due to overfishing and some species are on the brink of collapse.

The oceans are, indeed, in peril. But solutions abound. More and more fishing operations are harvesting fish in ways that don’t put so much pressure on the fish populations and that leave fewer pollutants in the water.

Blue Ocean boiled down the complicated details of the world’s fisheries and categorized species according to traffic-light colors. Green: okay. Yellow: some concerns. Red: stop and think about choosing something else. FishPhone even gives you a suggested alternative to the red species you had your eye on.

Hall says this puts power in the hands of consumers and also gets other people interested. “It’s an innovative way to engage with other people who might not be aware of these issues: the waiter, the person behind the seafood counter,” Hall said. “It’s a nice way to start a discussion.”

The UN says a quarter of all fish caught are bycatch – unintentionally caught, unwanted by consumers, and tossed out as garbage (photo, above). Do consumers have the power to stop this?

 

What do you think?

The problem of overfishing is enormous. A study published in the journal Science in 2006 reported that the world will run out of seafood by 2048 if the oceans continue to be fished at the rate they are now. That’s right. Run out of seafood. Most current consumer seafood awareness campaigns are aimed at the elite. FishPhone has the potential to expand beyond the “white tablecloth” restaurant clients, but how can an even broader group of consumers be engaged to care about the vanishing fish and to make seafood purchases that will reverse this alarming trend? - Alison Craiglow Hockenberry

Post your comments below:

 

Comments

Alison Hockenberry's picture
How can we broaden the consumer target?...in other words, how can we get more consumers to care about the state of world's oceans and make seafood purchases that are sustainable? Right now most consumer seafood awareness campaigns are aimed at the elite -- those who dine at "white tablecloth" restaurants and those in higher income brackets in industrialized countries. How can we reach and engage more people?

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