3 Tips to Consider When Looking for Sustainable Seafood

It’s a common line of questions: Should I be eating seafood? Is it healthy? Is it sustainable? Unsurprisingly, people have many different opinions on the matter. But in our modern era of declining ocean health, can we even justify consuming seafood? Yes, and no. The truth is, we must adjust and adapt our diets to give the oceans the freedom to recover. Here are 3 things you can do to become a more sustainable consumer of seafood.

Bother your local market. Seafood is notoriously and grossly mislabeled and hard to trace. Uncloak the mystery by asking your fish monger questions. Was this tuna longline or trolled? Does this particular salmon farm use smart, hygienic practices? If your local monger doesn’t know where your fish came from, assume it wasn’t harvested sustainably. And if they don’t have the answers for you, ask them to find out. If they forget, ask again — tell your friends and family to start inquiring. With enough interest, a market will generally try to appease its customers and seek out more sustainably oriented suppliers. It’s important to know as much as you can about the food you’re buying. As the demand for sustainably caught seafood increases, many fishing boats should be encouraged to adjust their practices accordingly, although that is by no means a rapid change.

Use apps to check mercury content. There are tons of apps out there — like Seafood Watch or the EWG’s Seafood Calculator —  that help you decipher the toxicity of certain seafoods, those with the highest quantities of beneficial omega 3s, and whether it is smarter to choose wild or farmed. Omega 3s are an extremely important fatty acid, the ratio of which in our diets should be greater than omega 6s. But, as our American diets are generally dominated by omega 6s, we generally end up with too few omega 3s in our systems. By consuming a few servings of high omega 3 seafood each week, you can rebalance your ratios and improve your health. (You can also get more omega 3s through plant-based alternatives.) On the other side of the spectrum, Seafood Watch can help you determine whether a fish is good, okay, or should be avoided. It can make a confusing section of your local market much more navigable.

Stop eating as many predators… and eat more ocean prey. As a rule of thumb, eat the smaller, numerous fish that fill the lower third of the food chain instead of the predators of the ocean. Bigger, predatory fish — shark, swordfish, tuna — often are less numerous and have higher mercury levels. In the interests of your health and sustainability, they are best rarely eaten. Anchovies and sardines, on the other hand, have low mercury content, high omega 3 levels, and are less threatened. By eating lower on the food chain, there’s a better chance you’re enjoying a healthier, less toxic, thriving seafood.

Eating sustainable seafood isn’t as simple as 3 steps, but these tips will help to get you started. Always be sure to ask questions, look into the meaning behind labels (MSC Certified Sustainable is a decent choice, but other labels can be misleading). The more informed you are, the better you can determine what to consume for both your own health, and that of the environment.

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Amy Leigh G.
Amy G3 years ago

Great info thanks

Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer3 years ago

Oh, my. With all the reseach being done I am more confused than ever.

Jeffrey Stanley
Jeff S3 years ago

Interesting, thanks.

Shirley P.
Shirley P3 years ago

Beneficial article, thanks.

Laurie j.
Laurie jope3 years ago


Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

For our long term use

Debbi -.
Debbi -3 years ago

Wild caught fish from the norther hemisphere is probably safer.

Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago