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How to be a Sustainable Seafood Shopper

It’s important to know where your food comes from. Do you prefer beef from grass-fed or grain-fed cows? Do your eggs come from caged or free-range chickens? Did this glass of water come from the purest spring in the Swiss Alps, or did you just scoop this out of the toilet?

The same goes for seafood! Seafood comes from all over the world, and not all seafood of the same name is truly the same. If you’re out shopping for some tuna for dinner, you might want to know some things before you buy it. It just says “tuna” – what species of tuna is it? Where is this tuna from? How was it caught?

Hopefully, your seafood specialist will be able to answer your questions. “This is a Pacific bluefin tuna from Japan,” he/she may say.

At this point, you can pull out your freshly downloaded Seafood Watch app, search for “Pacific bluefin tuna” and you will find a red fish symbol – this is a fish you should avoid. It turns out, Pacific bluefin tuna are overfished and are at risk of becoming a depleted species; almost all Pacific bluefins farmed in Japan and Mexico are sourced from threatened or vulnerable wild stocks; feeding this fish in farms is also highly inefficient – it takes 15 tons of wild fish to feed 1 ton of Pacific bluefin tuna. So … no thanks!

Then you can go back in your app and search for a more sustainable alternative, looking for the green fish symbol, and hey – skipjack looks like a good choice, especially eastern Pacific skipjack! They are a healthy fish and often fished via hand-operated pole-and-lines and trolling line methods, which apparently have very little impact on ocean habitats or other species. You ask for the skipjack instead, and you can continue your grocery shopping feeling great about your dinner.

Of course, you could also do a little research on the Seafood Watch app before going out to the store, so you don’t hold up the line and have things thrown at you.

Now, it might not always be easy to find “the best” option in your fish, especially if you’re out at a fancy restaurant on a first date or something. But it would be worthwhile to take a look at the app to learn which fish you should avoid. Saying no thanks to the snowy grouper special, and explaining that snowy grouper is a vulnerable species, might just show your date how much you care.

Thank you for taking a little extra time and helping out our aquatic friends and their habitats!

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl