Eating seafood is good for your health, but knowing which options are the most sustainable can also be challenging. Luckily, we have some tips to help you make smarter choices for your diet and the oceans.
Seafood sustainability encompasses a lot of different factors, from protecting wild species to ensuring fair labor practices in fishing and aquaculture operations. This guide is designed to help you choose suitable options for you and your family.
Know the Facts
Choosing sustainable seafood is one of the most potent ways to protect our ocean and help ensure the future of our global fisheries. By making choices that support seafood production that is healthy for our environment, you can help prevent overfishing, protect vital habitats and reduce pollution.
In addition, seafood caught sustainably minimizes harmful environmental impacts, assures good working conditions, and supports thriving businesses along the supply chain. Seafood Watch works year-round to update recommendations that address the full range of environmental, social, and economic factors that affect seafood sustainability so that you can eat delicious ocean-friendly food.
To learn more about choosing sustainable seafood, download a consumer guide and look for seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), or Ocean Wise. These guidelines will tell you what it takes to be a sustainable seafood provider and which fish are most environmentally friendly, including how much energy they use in their cultivation and harvesting.
Choose Your Fish Carefully
Fish is essential to a healthy diet, providing protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins like vitamin D and iron. Research shows that eating seafood two to three times a week reduces your risk of death from any health-related cause by 17 percent.
However, overfishing and other environmental factors reduce marine species’ populations, so we must choose our seafood carefully to ensure they’re still around for future generations. This is why it’s essential to ensure that you’re eating sustainable seafood with low levels of mercury, PCBs, and other contaminants.
There are several good seafoods in San Francisco out there to help you choose sustainable seafood.
Support Local Fisheries
When it comes to eating sustainable seafood, one of the best ways to make a difference is by supporting local fisheries. Buying local seafood supports fishing families, strengthens local economies, and helps build healthy regional food systems.
While you can eat a variety of fish from all over the world, some species have higher environmental impacts than others. These include invasive species that can crowd out native habitats, increased carbon emissions, and potential human rights abuses.
But there is also a wide range of species that have a lower environmental impact than other types of protein. These fish can be standard on the food chain, meaning they’re filter feeders that help clean the ocean.
In addition, some species are farmed using bottom culture methods, which cause fewer environmental impacts than land-based aquaculture and have lower nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. A recent study found that farmed bivalves – oysters, mussels, and scallops – have the lowest environmental impact of all the seafood studied, even accounting for greenhouse gas emissions.
Eat a Variety of Seafood
Seafood is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that help protect you from illness. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids that can help improve brain health and boost memory.
You are choosing locally caught fish limits the use of fossil fuels to transport it over long distances. Local seafood can also be more affordable than imported products, so it’s a great way to support your community.
Look for blue labels, such as those from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), to ensure that the fish you buy is certified sustainable. Many megachains like McDonald’s have begun selling seafood with the MSC label, which you can find in your local grocery store.
Eat Sustainably Farmed Seafood
Eating sustainably farmed seafood is critical to the health of our oceans and the planet. It’s one way to reduce the pressure on wild fisheries and help populations recover.
In the United States, the USDA’s regulations for seafood are defined with sustainability in mind, so farm-raised seafood is generally a safe and ethical choice. Some more sustainable options include Arctic Char (alpine trout), farmed in raceways, and Atlantic Cod, raised in cages.
Your best option is to find your local grocer or restaurant that sells sustainable seafood. Ask the staff where their fish comes from and whether it has any sustainability certifications.
You can also use consumer-sustainable seafood and food label guides to help you make intelligent decisions. You can even add a Seafood Watch bookmark to your phone to get the latest information about how to choose sustainably farmed seafood.
Seafood is a staple of many diets, providing protein and nutrients that help keep our world healthy. Eating seafood sustainably means eating fish and shellfish harvested or farmed in ways that protect our oceans, wildlife, fishing communities, and human livelihoods.
The best way to ensure that you’re buying sustainable seafood is to educate yourself and make informed choices regarding your seafood selections. Several reputable seafood guides are available that use scientific data to score the sustainability of each fishery.