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Fish to avoid and fish to eat

Updated on October 9, 2008

Fish is some of the healthiest protein we can eat, but the fishing industry can be incredibly environmentally destructive. Studies have found huge decreases in populations in today's oceans because of overfishing and reckless, inefficient fishing methods. One study, published in Science, found that if today's trends continue, the world will run out of seafood by 2048. The good news is that scientists say it isn't too late to change this--but changes must be made soon.

Please note there are images some may find disturbing in this hub, but they are included to illustrate the importance of this ocean crisis.

The Problems

Overfishing: Overfishing simply means catching the fish faster than they can reproduce. More efficient fishing equipment has allowed fisherman to increase their catch by 400% since 1950-but the ocean can only produce so much. Atlantic cod are one of the greatest losses; cod used to be plentiful off the coast of New England and Canada, but now have nearly disappeared. Their depletion has even caused the collapse of the fisheries that overfished them!

Images of the problems we face

Bycatch, the effects of bottom trawling and other fishing methods
Bycatch, the effects of bottom trawling and other fishing methods

Habitat destruction

Trawling and dragging mean dragging a net behind the boat at varying depths. The problem is they catch everything in their path-not just the fish intended for sale. Further, nets dragged along the sea floor significantly destroy habitats, tearing up coral and other formations that are integral to the sea's ecosystem.


Bycatch is animals that are caught in nets that are unwanted-juvenile fish, sea turtles, sharks, and others. They often die and are discarded as unusable. The United Nations estimates that 1 in 4 animals caught is bycatch (that's a lot when the world's catch is estimated to be 82 metric tons per year). Dolphins were famous bycatches in tuna fishing until consumers force a change-we do have the power to make a difference!


Farming can be a good solution, but there are environmental problems with it as well. If the farm is near wild populations and sharing the water source, disease often leaks out from the farmed populations to the wild fish. Antibiotics and other chemicals used to control disease in the farms can also leak into the environment. Further, many farms depend on wild fish to feed the farmed fish.


You can make a difference in the choices you make when eating fish. Download and print a pocket guide here (you can even choose your National region if you live in the United States!) and bring it to the store with you when purchasing fish.

In brief, here are fish to eat and fish to avoid:

Healthy, environmentally-safe fish to eat:

  • US Farmed Catfish

  • Pacific (Alaska long-line) Cod

  • US King Crab

  • Farmed clams, mussels, and oysters

  • Pacific Halibut

  • Alaska Wild Salmon

  • Farmed Rainbow Trout

  • US Albacore Tuna

Envrionmentally unfriendly fish to avoid:

  • Chilean Seabass

  • Atlantic Cod

  • Imported King Crab

  • Atlantic Halibut

  • Farmed and Atlantic Salmon

  • Shark

  • Imported Shrimp

  • Red Snapper

  • Bluefin Tuna

We can make a difference!!!


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    • jonaitis profile image

      jonaitis 8 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks LondonGirl!

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

      thanks for this - great hub