Eating sustainable seafood doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, according to Peter Adame -- the outreach coordinator for Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which provides an comprehensive guide of best choice seafood options -- the simplest way to get involved is to ask where your seafood is coming from. “When consumers care, that’s when businesses commit to sustainable seafood and commit to responsible sourcing policies," explained Adame. "And that’s actually where we find where we can drive change"
Nearly 90% of seafood eaten in the United States is from abroad, which means that Seafood Watch has to do meticulous research on countries from all over the world, their fishing laws, and how they’re maintaining their aquaculture, or farmed fisheries. For wild seafood, the guide examines fish populations; the percentage of bycatch -- meaning other sea critters, some of which may be endangered, that are accidentally caught; the impacts on the surrounding ecosystem depending on the method of fishing; and the fishing laws and management established by different countries. For fisheries, there’s a whole other list of criteria: how is waste being disposed of? What are the fish being fed? Are there chemical and antibiotics being used?
“Our standard is very rigorous and it’s science-based. We really do have a set standard for how our scientists score different criteria based on the data and we get all of that information peer-reviewed by industry,” Adame said. Additionally, the information is very transparent: you can access it either at Seafood Watch’s website or through their app, which helps consumers discover what seafood is safe to eat and what should be avoided.
Though it really depends on the region, and where the fish is from, we’ve rounded up the different seafood that’s marked as “best choices” across the nation by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood guide. But if you’re looking to see what’s more specifically acceptable in your state, head over to Seafood Watch and click on your location for a more detailed list. So look for these items on restaurant menus when you're dining out.