Sustainable Fishing Practices & Seafood Watch App from Monterey Bay Aquarium
Consumer Power is Dollar Power and That is Real Power
One of the two primary goals of the Global High Seas Marine Preserve, with the 50 Sustainable Seafood City Campaign, its to educate consumers on the fact they must demand seafood products from sustainable and not industrial sources. Industrial fishing is decimating the oceans and top-of-the-food-chain marine predators like tuna, sharks and whales. Along with banning industrial fishing, the consumption of sustainable seafood products will send a clear message to political and business leaders.
A casual poll of the population will reveal that most people are unaware of where the seafood they consume comes from, what is entailed in bringing it to market, how it is effecting the ocean ecosystems and if it can continue like this indefinitely. It can’t and that is the point.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch redesigned the app making it easier than ever to get the latest recommendations for seafood and sushi, learn more about the seafood you eat, and locate or share businesses that serve sustainable seafood.
- Get free, up-to-date seafood recommendations
- Search for seafood quickly and easily by common market name
- Search for sushi by Japanese name as well as common market name
- Find restaurants and stores near you that serve ocean-friendly seafood
- Access in-depth conservation notes and reports
Make Better Seafood Choices with Seafood Watch App and Leading
Chefs On the Importance of Choosing Sustainable Seafood
This is a Sustainable Fish
Eating fish is a smart choice. It’s a lean protein with great health benefits. But sometimes fish can be bad for you, and sometimes it’s bad for the environment. Seafood can be contaminated with high amounts of mercury and PCBs, causing ill health effects. And some varieties of seafood have been overfished or caught in ways that may cause lasting damage to our oceans and marine life.
When you’re at the store or ordering in a restaurant, how do you know which seafood to choose? It’s not as confusing as it might seem. Follow these eight basic rules to make smart seafood shopping choices that are good for your health and the health of our oceans. For more help selecting fish, consult the shopping guides posted at the Smart Shopper’s Guide to America’s Five Favorite Fish and Here’s the Catch.
Eat lower on the food chain
Smaller fish tend to be more plentiful and better for your health because they contain less mercury. Great small seafood choices include squid, oysters, mackerel, sardines and mussels.
Know how sustainable your seafood choices are
The health of different species varies by fishery. Alaskan seafood such as salmon and halibut, when caught in sustainable ways, is generally good for you and the environment. Use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide to learn which fisheries provide the most sustainable seafood choices.
American seafood isn’t perfect, but the U.S. variety of a particular type of fish is generally better than its imported counterpart because this country has stricter fishing and farming standards than do other parts of the world.
Know how it’s caught
There are more and less sustainable methods for harvesting fish. Know what method was used to catch the fish you choose to eat. Hook and line is a low-impact method of fishing that does no damage to the seafloor and lets fishermen throw back unwanted species, usually in time for them to survive. Intelligently designed traps are also good since they have doors that allow young fish to escape.
You’re usually better off eating the local variety of a particular type of fish instead of its counterpart from across the country or another part of the world, unless that species has been depleted in local waters. Even out of season, the local fish that has been frozen is preferable, since fresh fish must be transported by air, the most energy-intensive method of shipping.
Look for the label
The Marine Stewardship Council certifies seafood that is caught or raised in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner. Items that meet its criteria are marked with a MSC-certified label like the one shown here.
The renowned seafood chef, Peter Pahk, is wary of seafood labeled as “organic” noting that “if it’s organic and certified it’s probably farm raised and there are not just that many really good farm raised products out in the ocean today.”
Farmed shellfish is now being certified by The Food Alliance. Farmed oysters are a smart buy, Pahk notes, as that’s how they are being raised these days. All the better if the farm process is certified as environmentally responsible. Those certified by Food Alliance would bear this label.
Frozen or fresh, canned or pouch?
Lots of fish, shrimp in particular, freezes well. According to chef, Peter Pahk, freezing at sea, using a process perfected by the Japanese, protects the inherent quality of the fish. And, compared to fresh, frozen foods have lower transportation costs and CO2-emissions, as they don’t need to be air-shipped.
Be careful when buying canned seafood, as cans often are lined with a BPA-plastic coating. Look for seafood packed in shelf-stable, flexible pouches, as this is the environmentally preferable packaging.
Buy from trusted retailers
Certain businesses have set higher standards for the seafood they sell in their stores, and many have pledged to create long-term sustainable seafood plans. Find guides to good retailers at the Conservation Alliance for Sustainable Seafood Solutions and Greenpeace.