Sustainable Seafood and You

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email

I never really like to start off with a definition, but ocean fragility and continued recommendations to consume more seafood (omega-3 fatty acids) have led me to a discussion about sustainable seafood, so let’s just get the definition out of the way.

Sustainable seafood is seafood from either fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the ecosystems from which it was acquired.

It can be difficult to find sustainable seafood in the grocery stores, but there is help available. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation created a Seafood Watch Pocket Guide to help us choose the most sustainable seafood available in our region. For more information go to www.seafoodwatch.com. The list is updated twice a year. Seafood is sorted into 3 categories of sustainability: Best, Good and Avoid.

There is also a "super green" list which provides the best choices based on 3 criteria, environmental impact, healthy omega-3 fatty acid content and lowest levels of environmental contaminants. Choices on the super green list include:

  • Albacore tuna (troll or pole caught from the US or British Columbia)

    • Many people have heard about mercury in canned tuna, but fish caught with troll or pole are smaller in size and therefore have less mercury than larger tuna)

  • Fresh water Coho Salmon (farmed in the tank system from the US)

  • Oysters (farmed)

  • Pacific Sardines

  • Rainbow Trout (farmed)

  • Salmon (wild caught)

There is another sustainable list at the Blue Ocean Institute web site, www.blueocean.org. This web site also has an app for the iPhone.

Now on to the real useful information: what can you find where in our town? Here is my survey of 3 area stores. (Note: Products constantly change, so this list is not all-inclusive. Do make requests to your store manager if the sustainable fish you like is not available at your store.)

Kroger:

  • Gulf shrimp wild caught (USA)

  • US Sea scallops

  • Wild caught salmon

  • Mussels and oysters farmed

  • Canned Wild Planet sardines and albacore tuna (organic aisle)

  • 2 or more frozen salmon entrees with the blue marine steward eco label

Publix:

  • Wild caught salmon

  • Canned albacore tuna (organic)

  • Wild caught salad shrimp

  • Pacific Halibut

Earth Fare:

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon

  • Cod Fillet

  • Natural Sea canned pink salmon and red sockeye salmon

  • Several frozen items with the blue eco-label from the Marine Stewardship council

  • Blue Horizon Wild Salmon Cakes

  • Henry & Lisa Wild Alaskan Salmon

  • Natural Sea Fish fillets and sticks

As I read more and more on this subject, it became clear that we as consumers still have a hard time actually identifying which seafood at our store is sustainable and which is not. I suspect (and hope) as continued attention and pressure is applied to the topic of sustainable seafood, information will become more readily available. Until then, make the best choices possible and, as always, continue reading labels. Shop well and eat well :)


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