Seafood Watch

Being a big fan of seafood, I’m often at the fish counter wondering what is the best purchase.  Not only health wise for my family, but for the environment as well.  It seems just when I have a clear understanding, the wording gets changed on the sign or label, and I’m feeling confused again.  It is important to me and my family that we purchase fish caught or farmed using environmentally responsible practices to keep the world’s oceans healthy and abundant.  I want my kids, and their kids, to be able to enjoy the wonderful bounty of seafood we still have available.  Below is a breakdown I picked up at the California Academy of Sciences and they were provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  This guide is for West Coast Fall / Winter 2013.  The Best Choices are well-managed, caught or farmed in environmentally responsible ways.  Good alternatives have some concerns with how they are caught or farmed.  Avoid is seafood that is overfished, or there are strong concerns with how they are caught or farmed.

Best Choices Good Alternatives Avoid
Abalone Basa/Pangasius/Swai Abalone (China & Japan)
Arctic Char (farmed) Cod: Pacific (US trawl) Caviar, Sturgeon (imported wild)
Bass: Striped (US hook & line, farmed) Crab: King (US) Cod: Pacific (Japan & Russia)
Catfish (US) Flounders, soles (US Pacific) Crab: Red King (Russia)
Clams, Mussels, Oysters Halibut: California Halibut: California (gillnet)
Cod: Pacific (US) Lingcod Lobster: Spiny (Brazil)
Crab: Dungeness Lobster: American Mahi Mahi (imported)
Halibut: Pacific (US) Mahi Mahi (US) Orange Roughy
Lobster: Spiny (CA, FL & Mexico) Pollock: Alaska (US) Rockfish / Pacific Snapper (AK bottom trawl)
Rockfish: Black (US hook & line) Prawn: Spot (US Wild) Salmon: Atlantic (farmed)
Sablefish / Black Cod (AK & Canada) Sablefish / Black Cod (CA, OR & WA) Sharks
Salmon (AK) Salmon (CA, OR & WA wild) Shrimp (imported
Sardines: Pacific (Canada & US) Scallops (wild) Squid (imported)
Scallops (farmed) Shrimp (Canada & US Wild) Swordfish (imported)
Seabass: White (US hook & line) Squid (US) Tuna: Albacore / white canned (except Canada & US troll, pole and US longline)
Shrimp: Pink (OR) Swordfish (US) Tuna: Bluefin
Tilapia (Ecuador & US) Tilapia (China & Taiwan) Tuna: Skipjack / Light canned (except troll, pole and US longline)
Trout: Rainbow (US farmed) Tuna: Albacore / White canned (US longline) Tuna: Yellowfin (except troll, pole and US longline
Tuna: Albacore / White canned (Canada & US troll, pole) Tuna: Skipjack / Light canned (imported troll, pole and US longline)  
Tuna: Skipjack / Light canned (US troll, pole) Tuna:Yellowfin (imported troll, pole and US longline  
Tuna: Yellowfin (US troll, pole)    

This guide has a limited number of seafood items due to its size, but you can visit the website at, download their free app, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  Three easy steps you can take today are:  1) Ask, “Do you sell sustainable seafood?” Let businesses know this is important to you. 2) Buy: From the Best Choices list.  If that is not possible, choose from the Good Alternative list. Plan another meal if your only options are on the Avoid list.  3) Look: For the Marine Stewardship Council blue ecolabel in stores and restaurants.


4 Comments on “Seafood Watch”

  1. Thanks for the mention there. You highlight a challenge that many consumers find, one which we strive to simplify by making the choice simple via the MSC ecolabel – something which we work tirelessly on ensuring the utmost credibility. Find out more at Thanks 🙂

    • Serves4 says:

      As a wife, mother, and fulltime employee, I sincerely appreciate the effort to simplify the choice. I had no idea before reading the latest information that some seafood can be farmed! If it was farmed, I would automatically avoid it. Now I realize I was not making the best choice, though I thought I was.

      Thank you so much for all of your work! I look forward to keeping up to date through your website, and trying some of your recipes!

  2. Thanks for this post. Educated consumers are a big part of preserving and enhancing wild fish stocks.

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