If a European consumes, on average, 20 kilos of fish and shellfish per year, a Portuguese consumer eats three times more, which means, 60 kilos per year. However, this exaggerated consumption can have impacts not only on the oceans, but on the climate changes.

In Portugal, more than 200 different species of fish pass through the country's fish auctions. However, 90 percent of consumption focuses on five types of fish: tuna, sardine, hake, cuttlefish/ squid/ octopus and, the most consumed of all, cod.

However, "we recommend that people reduce their consumption of fish", especially when it comes to shrimps and crayfish. Although these species represent "some economic weight" for fishermen, their fishing is "highly destructive". In the process, "much of the carbon that is absorbed by these deep-water ecosystems ends up being released with these nets," Nicolas Blanc, a marine biologist and collaborator with Sciaena, told CNN Portugal.

Diversifying the species we eat

Nicolas Blanc also stresses that it is important to inform people about species that they may never have eaten, but which are fished off our coast. "Instead of consuming things that may come from aquaculture in other countries, or caught in other waters - often in areas that are overfished or fished illegally - we can make a contribution to our local fishermen”.

On the other hand, top predators and species that are in a worrying situation should be avoided, such as tuna, cod, hake, sharks, rays and salmon. In fact, Portugal is the second largest exporter of shark meat.

However, even if we diversify the species we consume, it is really necessary to reduce the number of times we go to the fish market, says the expert, who even calls for reducing fish consumption, adding that we need to eat more plant-based.

"We're not telling people to stop eating fish completely, but it's necessary to reduce and think of plant-based alternatives so that we have less animal protein in our diet in general. It is part of our traditions and culture and will not disappear, but we can make changes," Nicolas Blanc said.

Fishing can harm the planet

According to Nicolas Blanc, "bottom trawling turns the seabed upside down - literally - so a lot of the carbon that is absorbed by these ecosystems ends up being released by these nets".

These destructive types of fishing can contribute to climate change. "There's almost a cycle here: the oceans consume huge amounts of the carbon produced by humans and that helps that there's not as much carbon in the atmosphere," he told CNN Portugal.

In addition, “a fire in Portugal will have consequences not only for the Portuguese sea, but also for the global sea," Nicolas Blanc said to CNN. "It is extremely important to make the link between the oceans and the climate, because these climate changes we are experiencing can be mitigated in some way to preserve the oceans”, he added.

Nicolas regrets that Portugal is no different from many other countries: "We have a lot of capacity to do better. We are highly dependent on the sea in Portugal and there are habitats that are extremely important for the development of commercial species that our fishermen and consumers in Portugal will want to have on the table”.

Commitments made by Portugal

At the Oceans Conference, Portugal committed to having 100% of fish stocks fished in our waters within sustainable limits by 2030, which means that for any fish population there is an established maximum level of fishing to ensure that the stock continues to reproduce without significant changes, because "some species that we fish in Portugal are in decline and are on the verge of extinction".

"The question is how we get there", Nicolas Blanc points out. However, the biologist recalls that to be successful in our goal, Portugal must still study some fish species, such as, for example, mackerel, which although it is widely fished, is little known.

"To meet this commitment, we must have that knowledge first."