Promoting Sustainable Seafood
In a time when fisheries are in a catastrophic state of decline, what seafood, if any, is OK to eat?
The # 1 Rule is to Demand Sustainable Seafood
The choices you make as a consumer drive the fisheries market, so buying only sustainable seafood puts pressure on seafood suppliers to provide sustainable seafood. Asking where and how the fish was caught before your purchase also puts pressure on restaurant owners, grocers, and other seafood providers to learn the origins of their seafood and make informed decisions of what to supply consumers with. You can write to your state representatives to encourage them to place stricter regulations and enforcement on our fisheries.
Remember: always carry your Seafood Watch guide with you to help you make educated decisions when buying seafood. And support organizations and businesses trying to make a difference in the seafood industry and improve the health of fisheries such as FishWise and i love blue sea!
The following guide is for the West Coast of the United States as of January 2012:
• Abalone (U.S. farmed)
• Arctic char (farmed)
• Barramundi (U.S. farmed)
• Catfish (U.S. farmed)
• Clams, mussels, and oysters (farmed)
• Cod, Pacific (from U.S. non-trawled)
• Dungeness crab
• Halibut, Pacific
• Lobster, California Spiny (U.S.)
• Rockfish, Black (CA, OR, WA, hook and line)
• Sablefish/Black cod (Alaska or Canada)
• Salmon (Alaska wild)
• Scallops (farmed)
• Shrimp, Pink (Oregon)
• Spot Prawn (Canada)
• Striped bass (farmed of wild)
• Tilapia (U.S. farmed)
• Trout, Rainbow (U.S. farmed)
• Tuna: Albacore (by troll/pole in U.S. or Canada)
• Tuna: Skipjack, Yellowfin (U.S. by troll or pole-and-line)
• White seabass (hook and line)
- By ordering farmed clams, mussels, and oysters, wild stocks are not being depleted. Also, clam, mussel, and oyster aquaculture is among the most environmentally friendly. These mollusks actually improve water quality.
- American wild-caught shrimp, such as pink shrimp from Oregon, is a good choice because they are free of contaminants most farmed shrimp are full of. American shrimp fishermen are required to reduce by-catch by law and only use trawlers for shrimp that include turtle exclusion devices.
- Wild Alaskan salmon is superior to any other salmon available in stores or restaurants since it is not pumped with antibiotics like farmed salmon, and in Alaska, restrictions are set on fishermen to limit how much they can catch within a certain time slot. This enforcement ensures that the Alaskan salmon fishery is not depleted and remains in a stable state.
- U.S. farmed tilapia is among the best fish to eat because not only does this prevent wild stocks from being depleted, but they are raised in an environmentally safe way. In the U.S., farmed tilapia are raised in closed tank systems. This greatly reduces the risk of escape and thus ecological damage. These fish are also fed mostly vegetable-based diets, and farming operations produce little water pollution.
Good Alternatives to Eat Occasionally:
• Basa/Pangasius/Swai (farmed)
• Caviar, Sturgeon (U.S. farmed)
• Cod, Pacific (US caught by trawl)
• Crab, King (U.S.)
• Crab, Snow
• Flounders, Soles (Pacific)
• Halibut, California
• Lobster (American/Maine)
• Mahi mahi/Dolphinfish (U.S.)
• Pollock (Alaska)
• Rockfish (Pacific caught by hook and line)
• Sablefish/Black Cod (CA,OR, WA)
• Salmon (CA, OR, WA, wild)
• Sanddabs, Pacific
• Scallops (wild)
• Shrimp (U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Canada)
• Spot prawn (U.S.)
• Swordfish (U.S.)
• Talapia (Central & South America farmed)
• Tuna: Bigeye, Tongol, Yellowfin (troll/pole)
• Yellowtail: California (U.S. wild)
- Bigeye, yellowfin, and albacore tuna are a good alternative because they are able to resist fishing pressure since they have quick growth rates and frequent reproduction. Also, those caught by troll or pole is better environmentally since those methods do not incur the by-catch rates longline fishing does.
- It is advised to consume US King and Snow crab in moderation since populations are still recovering. Management has only become more proactive recently.
- Mahi mahi or dolphinfish are only proactively managed in the US. They are fast-growing so they easily escape fishing pressure. However, the reason they should only be an alternative is due to the method with which they are caught: longlines, which have a high degree of by-catch.
Worst Options - AVOID:
• Caviar, Sturgeon (imported wild)
• Chilean Seabass/Toothfish
• Cobia (imported farmed)
• Cod: Atlantic (Canada and U.S.)
• Cod: Pacific (Imported)
• Crab, King (imported)
• Dogfish, Spiny (U.S.)
• Lobster: Spiny (Brazil)
• Mahi mahi/dolphinfish (imported)
• Marlin: blue, striped (Pacific)
• Orange Roughy
• Rockfish/"Pacific Snapper" (trawled)
• Salmon (farmed, including Atlantic)
• Shrimp (imported)
• Swordfish (imported)
• Talapia (Asia farmed)
• Tuna: Albacore, Bigeye, Yellowfin, Skipjack, Tongol (except for troll/pole)
• Tuna: Bluefin
• Tuna: Canned (except troll/pole)
- Imported, farmed shrimp are full of toxins and the farming methods used are bad for the environment. Disease is highly frequent in shrimp farms so these shrimp are pumped with antiboitics and pesticides. Imported, wild shrimp are just as bad due to the amount of by-catch produced, and the trawelers used to catch the fish do not contain turtle exclusion devices.
- The overfishing and damming of rivers along California’s northern coast has led to the salmon’s current critical state. The salmon runs have been closed for two years in order to allow the species to recover. During this time the rate of salmon aquaculture has risen and so have the controversies over it. It takes 3kg of fish feed to produce 1kg of farmed salmon. Also, farmed salmon have proven to be more vulnerable to sea lice infestation. Lice and other diseases that manifest in farmed populations can spread to wild populations. To cure these diseases, farmed salmon are treated with antibiotics. However, this in addition to their waste induces extremely poor water quality. Sometimes, farmed salmon manage to escape to go on to breed with wild salmon, reducing the offsprings’ viability.
- Bluefin tuna is almost on the verge of extinction because it is so overfished. Its extremely high value in the sushi market makes it highly demanded. Bluefin tuna also grow slowly and take a long time to reproduce. Thus, this species is being depleted faster than it is able to recover.
What You Can Do to Support Sustainable Fisheries:
- Demand Sustainable Seafood! The future of our fisheries depends on you, the consumer.
- Advocate for Marine Protected Areas! Marine Protected Areas are marine reserves, or "no take zones," critical to recovering fish populations by allowing species safe zones for reproduction. 29 Marine Protected Areas on California's Central Coast have been recently implemented and their effectiveness will be highly monitored.
- Take Action for MPAs today!
- Monthly Beach Cleanups
- Private & School Cleanups
- Adopt-a-Beach Cleanups
- Meet the Beach Adopters
- Earth Day
- July 4th & 5th
- Annual Coastal Cleanup Day
- Cleanup Calendar
Special Projects & Internships
- To Volunteer for Special Projects or inquire about Internships, email email@example.com