Do you eat fish? If so, do you know what you are eating? Do you know which fish are being over-fished and which are OK? Which ones contain more mercury and which ones contain less? If you don’t, you might want to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program at the aquarium’s website.
The aquarium has put together amazing reference materials using Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps, and downloadable “carry with you” pdf’s, which can help guide you to making responsible choices when it comes to seafood. All the seafood in their program are graded on the following scale:
Best Choices: Seafood in this category is abundant, well-managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.
Good Alternatives: These items are an option, but there are concerns with how they’re caught or farmed-or with the health of their habitat due to other human impacts.
Avoid: Take a pass on these items for now. They are caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment.
The Super Green List: A list of wild and farmed seafood that’s healthy for people and the oceans.
They even have buyer’s guides for chefs and culinary alternatives that can be used in place of certain seafood, which is pretty cool.
Why is knowing which seafood is OK to eat important? Because certain seafood is over-fished and/or has very high levels of toxic chemicals in them. Seafood gets contaminated with heavy metals (such as mercury, which affects brain function and development), industrial chemicals (PCBs and dioxins) and pesticides (DDT). These toxins usually originate on land and make their way into the smallest plants and animals at the base of the ocean food web. As smaller species are eaten by larger ones, contaminants are concentrated and accumulated. Large predatory fish – like swordfish and shark – end up with the most toxins. And despite our best efforts, the global catch of wild fish leveled off over 20 years ago and 70 percent of the world’s fisheries are being harvested at capacity or are in decline.
Want to do the right thing? Eat sustainable and healthy fish. Check out all the resources available at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website, and be sure to download the pocket guide and/or iPhone app so you always have the info you need at your fingertips while shopping. Happy fishing!