Fish are a great source of protein and cause a lot less environmental impact than cattle, pigs, and poultry. However, when we think of either fishing for fish in the wild or raising fish on a fish farm, undesirable environmental impacts can occur in both areas. For example, some fish have been so over-fished in the wild that they are now on the endangered list trending towards extinction. The Monterey Bay Aquarium states that “85% of the world’s fisheries are overfished.” An example of extreme environmental impacts with farmed fish is the harm that can be caused to surrounding waters and other marine life from excess production of waste and feces as a result of a lot of fish being farmed in such a small area. With all these hazards, knowing what fish to buy and from where is extremely important in order to support safe and sustainable fishing and farming practices.
Here are 3 quick tips for buying sustainable seafood:
- Use an app: there’s an app for everything and it’s hard to keep up with all the latest trends. I use Monterey Bay Aquarium’s app called “Seafood Watch.” It’s great because you can look up fish while you’re at the store to see if you should buy it or not. There’s a Green light (Best choice for well-managed and abundant fish). A Yellow light (Good alternative but concerns with whether the fish is ocean-caught or farm-raised). And a Red light (Avoid due to harming the environment or over-fished). The app is simple, easy to navigate, and a great learning resource. I simply punch in the fish I want to buy and I’m instantly told whether or not to buy it. Marine Stewardship Council also has an app to find sustainable seafood products.
- Learn who sells what: Many stores and markets are now making an effort to provide sustainable seafood to their customers. Learn what retailers are working with suppliers and producers who are transparent and advocate for a more responsible fishing industry. The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions is one group who has a common vision to improve fisheries and provide specific guidelines for long-term viable seafood. They also provide a list of over 20 companies who support the Common Vision of responsible fisheries and fish farms to sustainable seafood. Check out the list and shop at these stores.If the store near you isn’t on this list, you can suggest they join the group.
- Stay informed: Many resources are available for obtaining the latest and greatest information. Marine Stewardship Council offers a lot of free resources from tracking fisheries to apps for sustainable seafood products to where to shop and more. Fish Choice also has a newsletter and is a free resource for buyers and sellers to find fish products that are sustainable. Last of all, The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a terrific informative newsletter containing up-to-date information.
Education and knowledge is power. The more you stay informed, the better you’ll be at supporting sustainable fishing whether it’s farm-raised or wild-caught. Use the above resources. I highly recommend the apps so when you’re at the store, you instantly know what to do. Download one today.
Comment below and let me know what you are going to do to support sustainable seafood. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN