Seafood Watch - What are the Best Fish to Eat?
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
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.
- Marine Stewardship Council - Fish to Eat
Find which fish the MSC recommends as sustainable
- Greenpeace Seafood Report and Supermarket Scorecards
Find which supermarkets have the best seafood practices, such as purchasing policies, details on the source of the seafood, and training their staff on seafood sustainability issues.
- Environmental Defense Fund Seafood Selector
See the lists of Eco-Best to Eco-Worst seafood choices and print a pocket seafood selector.
- World Wildlife Fund Sustainable Seafood Consumer Guides
The other resources on this page are geared to American consumers, but if you live in Europe or other parts of the world, WWF has country-specific guides to help you make the best seafood choices in your area.
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!