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Seafood Watch - What are the Best Fish to Eat?

Updated on May 30, 2013

If You Love Seafood But Worry About Our Oceans, What are the Best Fish to Eat?

If you don't know whether to choose salmon or sea bass, farmed or wild, Seafood Watch can help. This program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium helps educate consumers about which fish and seafood are the most sustainably harvested. The program publishes several well-known regional guides with recommendations on which choices to eat or avoid, and makes the information easily accessible in convenient pocket guides you can slip into a wallet or purse.

I love seafood, especially salmon, but for a long time I stopped eating it because I was never sure whether I should be eating farmed or wild, Atlantic or Alaskan. Then I discovered the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch pocket guide. Now when I'm eating out and want salmon, I simply asked whether it's farmed or wild. If it's farmed, I pass. If it's wild, I ask where it's from. If it's from Alaska, bon appetit! Otherwise, I look for other choices on the menu.

The Seafood Watch guide makes it easy for consumers to choose seafood that has been sustainably harvested. The guide lists dozens of types of seafood and gives one of three ratings - Best Choice, Good Alternative, and Avoid - based on where and how it's caught. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon, for instance, is marked a best choice, followed by wild-caught Washington salmon, which is listed as a good alternative. The guide says to avoid any farmed or Atlantic salmon.

According to the aquarium website, the original sustainable seafood list was developed as part of the 1997-1999 "Fishing for Solutions" exhibit. Today the Seafood Watch program has grown to include six regional pocket guides for consumers, three Spanish editions and a mobile edition for cell phones and other mobile devices. All versions are updated every six months. The program also has its own domain pointing to program information - www.seafoodwatch.org - and the aquarium has a staff dedicated to creating, updating and distributing the guides in the US and Canada.

Why It Matters

Nearly 75% of the world's fisheries are either overfished or fully fished

Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans - Sustainable seafood and more

Dr. Sylvia Earle, the former chief of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Adminstration and one of the nation's top marine scientists, wrote this book, which gives a lot of information about how mankind is affecting the world's oceans. She also specifically addresses the challenges of sustainable seafood. If you're concerned about your choices as a consumer, this is an excellent book to read.

Fish Forever: The Guide to Sustainable Seafood - An award-winning seafood cookbook for the eco-conscious

Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood
Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood

Amazon says: Written for people who love seafood but worry about the overfishing of certain species as well as mercury and other contaminants, Fish Forever pinpoints today's least-endangered, least-contaminated, best-tasting fish and shellfish species. Johnson provides in-depth guidance on 70 different fish along with 96 stylish international recipes that highlight the outstanding culinary qualities of each. In addition to teaching readers about sustainable fishing practices, Johnson will be donating a portion of his royalties to Save Our Wild Salmon, an organization that works to restore wild salmon runs. Complete with over 60 beautiful color photographs, how-to tips, and fascinating sidebars, Fish Forever is a must-have kitchen resource for seafood lovers everywhere. A mutiple award winner, this great book also won the IACP's "Best Single-Subject Cookbook."

 

Impact of Poor Fishing Practices

25% of sea creatures caught in fishing gear are "bycatch," unwanted or unintentional catch that are tossed out or killed

More Sustainable Seafood Guides

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is not the only organization that has created guidelines for consumers who want to make eco-friendly seafood choices. Here are some other options.

Tips for Buying Fish at the Local Supermarket - What to look for on the labels

What About Squid?

Since we're on Squidoo...

I couldn't complete this page without including some information about Squidoo's mascot, the squid. What does Seafood Watch say about this cephalopod?

If you enjoy squid, longfish squid (also called common squid or boned squid) that is trawl-caught in the US Atlantic is the best choice. All other choices are considered "good alternatives." There are no types of squid that the Seafood Watch guide currently marks as a seafood to avoid. So if squid's your pleasure, enjoy!

Do You Worry About What Seafood to Eat?

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    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Fishing is a problems there are many local fisherman that make a living off of fishing in my community. I believe the large commercial fisheries have limited the ability of the locals to continue their living fishing. There are many limits that prevent the locals from earning a living, especially since the Deep Water Horizon disaster her on the coast. Our fishing have been limited.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Fishing is a problems there are many local fisherman that make a living off of fishing in my community. I believe the large commercial fisheries have limited the ability of the locals to continue their living fishing. There are many limits that prevent the locals from earning a living, especially since the Deep Water Horizon disaster her on the coast. Our fishing have been limited.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I think there definitely needs to be controls on fishing to stop the seas from being overfished. Good information.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      I do care about seafood ethics. The more I learn, the more important I realize this topic has become. I wish to be an educated consumer. Congrats on your Purple Star! Very nicely done.

    • Gordon N Hamilton profile image

      Gordon N Hamilton 6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Fabulous lens on a subject which is very close to my heart. Here in the UK, there is a massive campaign ongoing at the moment called The Big Fish Fight, where celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay are attempting to draw attention to just this very issue. I hope more and more people will realise just how serious a problem this is becoming.

    • profile image

      Rorik 6 years ago

      Great lens on the subject! Take care and good luck Rorik@@Online Winkelen .

    • profile image

      fishwholesalers 6 years ago

      best to those that are fresh! buy the freshest fish and seafoods from your trusted fish wholesalers

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      I definitely worry about, and I don't eat much fish because of it. Thanks for offering this information, I could use it.

    • profile image

      martialartstraining 7 years ago

      Actually I have worried about this for a long time because its not like we make sure to protect and feed the varieties of fish (not that that would be good exactly) we eat in the same way we do cattle. Thank you for this lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Before this I wasn't but now on I will give it a thought

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      Yes, I do all the time. The long lines that are killing birds, the trawlers that take everything and the plastic that poisoning all ocean wildlife eats me up inside. Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust and also on Plastic is Death

    • wayfarer lm profile image

      wayfarer lm 7 years ago

      I'm surprised by how many restaurants/stores still sell sea bass since it is one of those over-fished fishes. Great lens!

    • profile image

      CardioTabs 7 years ago

      thanks for the great lens--as a fellow fish consumer, I agree, it is very important that we pay attention to the fish we consume. Only recently did I learn about this growing issue. Your lens is very helpful about fish to eat and what to know.

      If you get a chance check out my lens about a similar topic of our dwindling fish supply and what needs to be done

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 7 years ago

      Nice lens! It is important for us to know whether or not our seafood preference affects the balance in our oceans. If in case our preference do affect the oceans, we must take action and choose amongst the fish choices that are best to eat. 5*

      Hope you could visit my lenses and be a fan of my fb page. Thanks

    • profile image

      totalhealth 7 years ago

      thansk for a great lens, this is a nice guide for those who loves to eat fishing but prefers sustanable sources.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      We are very careful what seafood we buy and always check the labels. An important lens.

    • profile image

      bengriston 7 years ago

      When you read National Geographic and see the stories on how the oceans are being depleted it makes you want to avoid fish. But it has so many healthy properties that are good for you, you want to eat it. Thanks for this lens so I can make a good decision at the market.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I am not a big seafood eater but my family sure is so I appreciate this information. Thank you.

    • monarch13 profile image

      monarch13 8 years ago

      Congratulations, you were nominated for a Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Group Excellence Award!

      Good Luck and Good Health!

      Monarch 13 (Michelle)

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • LisaDH profile image
      Author

      LisaDH 8 years ago

      [in reply to Gmomofive] Thanks for the honor! And for those who are interested, here's the link to the Green Tips group.

    • profile image

      Gmomofive 8 years ago

      You are a featured lens on Green Tips- Quick Fixes, Easy, & Long Haul Choices! this week.

    • kellywissink lm profile image

      kellywissink lm 8 years ago

      Welcome to the Squidoo 100 Lens Club.-Kelly

    • kellywissink lm profile image

      kellywissink lm 8 years ago

      Welcome to the Squidoo 100 Lens Club.-Kelly

    • monarch13 profile image

      monarch13 8 years ago

      Wild Alaskan Salmon is the best by far. Thanks for joining The Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Group. 5 stars

    • profile image

      tdove 8 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 8 years ago

      I hardly ever eat fish because I have no idea on what to buy, plus I'm very wary on the mercury factor. Excellent work, welcome to A Million Ways to Go Green!

    • ChristopherScot1 profile image

      ChristopherScot1 8 years ago

      Thanks for joining the group for A Day of Hope!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Welcome to The Totally Awesome Lenses Group.

      Lizzy