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My Journey with Sustainable Seafood

Insights From Sustainable Food Advocate Aryn Hala

By Aryn HalaPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
My Journey with Sustainable Seafood
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

As a chef who has grown up surrounded by the beauty of the ocean in Australia, the call to protect it through my culinary choices has deeply shaped my approach to cooking.

Sustainable seafood isn't just a professional responsibility for me; it's a personal passion, born from years of experiencing firsthand the wonders and fragility of marine life in the Great Barrier Reef.

In this post, I want to share my story of how sustainable seafood became the cornerstone of my culinary philosophy and how we, as a community of food lovers and chefs, can make a meaningful impact.

The Start of My Sustainable Journey

My real education in sustainable seafood began the moment I stepped into the professional kitchen.

Early in my career, while working at a seafood restaurant in Sydney while I was studying. I saw the direct link between the dishes we served and the health of the seas.

It became obvious that every choice we made in the kitchen impacted the ocean's ecosystems. This realization drove me to dig deeper, learning about overfished species, the destruction caused by certain fishing methods, and the power of consumer choices.

The Impact of Overfishing on Our Oceans

Overfishing is one of the most significant threats to our ocean environments, and as a chef, I've witnessed firsthand the impacts it can have not only on marine life but also on our communities.

Declining Fish Populations

I remember chatting with a customer here in Gold Coast who ran a fishing boat in Darwin. He told me about the schools of snapper that used to flourish off our shores.

Now, he says, those days are few. It's a stark reminder that without sustainable practices, the abundance of the ocean continues to dwindle.

Disrupted Food Chains

On a trip up to Coast in Queensland, I saw barren underwater landscapes, once vibrant coral reefs now ghost towns.

Overfishing removes key species, which destabilizes the entire ecosystem. This not only affects the species we aim to catch but also every other organism depending on them for survival.

Impact on Local Communities

Local fish markets have also felt the pinch. With fewer fish, prices go up, and choices become limited. This not only affects consumers but also the livelihoods of those who depend on fishing and related businesses.

Each of these points reinforces the urgent need for sustainable seafood choices to preserve our oceans and ensure that future generations can still enjoy and benefit from their bounty.

As a chef, I strive to be part of the solution, and I encourage everyone to consider the long-term impact of the seafood they consume.

Partnering with the Ocean

Choosing to use sustainable seafood is like entering into a partnership with the ocean. For me, this means engaging with local fishers who use responsible practices, opting for species that are plentiful and harvested ethically, and often, picking the underdog fish not commonly featured on menus. These choices might seem small, but they're part of a larger effort to balance our plates and our planet.

Creative Sustainability

One of my favorite parts of being a chef is the creative challenge—especially when it involves less popular or invasive species. For example, crafting a dish around lionfish, an invasive species, turned into an exciting menu feature that also contributes to controlling its population. It’s about turning a problem into a palate-pleaser, and guests love knowing their meal makes a difference.

Another dish close to my heart features locally line-caught mackerel with a side of wild, foraged sea greens and organic grains. It’s simple, yet each element tells a story of sustainability and local sourcing, connecting diners directly with their environment. This isn't just cooking; it's telling a story, it's an education, and it's a way to make change.

How You Can Help

I firmly believe that everyone has a role to play in sustainable seafood. Whether you're cooking at home or choosing a restaurant, your decisions matter. Start by asking questions about where and how your seafood is sourced. Try new, sustainable species that you might not usually consider. Support local businesses that prioritize the health of our oceans.

The Bigger Picture

Every dish we create from sustainable sources is a vote for the health of our oceans and a badge of support for the communities that depend on them. This journey has taught me that sustainability isn't just a professional practice; it's a way of life. As we continue to enjoy the vast offerings of the sea, let’s also commit to its protection. Let’s make every meal a step towards a more sustainable future.

Through this blog, I hope to inspire you to join me in this culinary movement, exploring delicious, responsible choices that celebrate and safeguard our blue planet. Together, we can cook up a storm of positive change!


About the Creator

Aryn Hala

Aryn Hala is a Gold Coast chef famed for her sustainable Australian cuisine. Trained at CIA Sydney, she champions local produce and eco-friendly practices, inspiring with her innovative dishes and commitment to the environment.

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