I went to a seminar about sustainable seafood at the latest IACP Conference in Denver that was supposed to clarify some of the confusion surrounding what fish and seafood is best to eat, both for the environment and our health. Well, let’s just say that it did and it didn’t shed light on the issue.
I’m on board with the basics. Don’t eat overfished seafood (remember Chilean Seabass?). Try to avoid fish with lots of mercury and PCBs. Buy “local” seafood as much as possible, preferably caught in the US. Got it. Wild is better than farmed. However—and here is where it gets confusing—some farmed fish is all right. But how am I supposed to know if the farm that raised the tilapia I see on the market counter uses sustainable practices or not?
Well, I may never be able to find out but the Seafood Watch pocket guides put together by the Monterey Bay Aquarium come in handy when you’re trying to make those choices. They divide fish and seafood based on what’s the best choice, what’s a good alternative, and ones to avoid based on how abundant certain fish is and whether it’s caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.
The good news is that the Seafood Watch guides, which are subdivided by US regions (from Northeast to Southwest), are now available for download on your iPhone or other portable electronic devices. Just go to http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_iPhone.aspx. Even handier than the already handy pocket guides.