Seafood Watch stumps for safe fishing

‘Pocket Guides’ help seafood lovers choose


As the demand for seafood in America increases, a national program is trying to raise awareness about the environmental dangers of purchasing seafood that is caught using unsafe practices.

Seafood Watch, an initiative created in 1999 by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, encourages consumers and businesses to purchase seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that do not harm the environment.

“Seafood Watch is one of our signature conservation outreach programs,” said Mike Sutton, vice president of the Center for the Future of the Oceans, a program created by Monterey Bay Aquarium to promote the conservation of oceans.  “It’s arguably the best known sustainable seafood initiative in the nation.”

In an effort to gain supporters while spreading knowledge about sustainable seafood, the group provides pocket guides to restaurants and distributors. The guides highlight seafood choices that are farmed in environmentally friendly ways, and those that are subject to overfishing or harmful to other marine life. It also offers alternatives to the seafood that should be avoided.

“Big seafood buyers like retailers Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Target and large food service companies buy millions of pounds of seafood each year.  Their choices affect all of us,” Sutton said.

Seafood Watch, which boasts nearly 200 partner organizations across North America who help its cause, also encourages individual seafood lovers to “make better choices” by finding out if the seafood they buy was caught in an eco-friendly manner, Sutton said.

“Fishermen can use more selective gear to catch what they’re after. For example, cod can be caught by destructive bottom trawling or by hook-and-line, which tends to be less destructive and thus more sustainable” Sutton said.  “Prawns can be trapped rather than trawled, which does less damage to the sea bottom.”

Sutton said there are several ways consumers can keep the ocean healthy.

“Consumers can use our Seafood Watch program as guidance to help them make better choices when ordering seafood in a restaurant or in the fish market,” Sutton said. “They can also look for the blue-and-white eco-label of the Marne Stewardship Council – a global fishery certification program that rewards sustainable fishing – when shopping for seafood, to help guarantee they are getting the best environmental choice in fisheries.”

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15 responses to “Seafood Watch stumps for safe fishing”

  1. Britishwannabe says:

    As a consumer, I support the blue and white eco label system. I think this movement is great; sustainability is key to a healthy environment and healthier people. It’s only in our best interest to purchase seafood caught using safe practices.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a very interesting article which informs those consumers who aren’t aware of the situation when it comes to their seafood. I personally love seafood and now will try to be more aware when it comes to what I am eating and how that food is getting to my plate.

  3. Com Student 116 says:

    I had no idea the Monterey Bay Aquarium was active like this. I thought it was just a cool place to go see fish (live fish). It is good to be educated on where our seafood comes from. When we destroy the ocean, we are destroying our own food. Personally, I wouldn’t put a lot of effort to find out if every restaurant I went to served eco-friendly fish, but it is good to aware of the issues. The label of the Marine Stewardship Council is a great, easy way for consumers to educate themselves. I will definitely keep an eye out for blue and white.

  4. Bradorisa says:

    I think the blue and white eco label is a great idea. One of the best ways to conserve the environment is by educating the public and supplying them with the resources to make wise and informed decisions.

  5. Kiernan King says:

    This initiative not only benefits the environment, but also the consumers because it educates fishermen about safe practices that may be used in the future. Seafod Watch is partners with almost 200 organizations, these methods have definitely reached enough people to make an impact on the environment. The blue-and-white eco-labels are also a good idea because they allow non-fishermen to assist their goal as well.

  6. Danilali says:

    The Seafood Watch program is a great idea for people to get guidance on making better choices and to be knowledgeable of the environmental dangers on the unsafe fishing practices. I did not know that the demand of seafood in America was increasing in such a matter, that it’s affecting our oceans. I am pleased about the initiative of Monterey Bay Aquarium, by encouraging consumers and business to purchase seafood that is fished in ways that do not harm the environment.

  7. Levy says:

    This is one of the issues that we as consumers can prevent and change. Because we would feel better about ourselves consuming these products by asking and checking blue-and-white eco-labels, we will be able to help our environment.

  8. Marchesa says:

    I enthusiastically support the ideals of the “Seafood Watch,” as it seems to actually be putting its ideas in action, rather than just pondering about how to help the world. Putting their pamphlets in Whole Foods and other retailers, is a great way to bring awareness to their cause and group. The next time I buy fish, I will definitely look out for them!

  9. Yaelherman says:

    Its interesting to hear about how the different methods of fishing can harm the environment. Most of the time the news report on the harm that raising cattle is for the environment, but its the first time I read on how fishing can be more sustainable. Consumers should take advantage of the efforts made by the Seafood Watch initiative and buy products that support fisherman and companies that care for the environment!

  10. Melayna Dong says:

    This is a great idea in order to make consumers aware. When I eat seafood, I have no idea how it got there or where it come from. It would make me feel better about what I’m eating because if I knew in order to have caught the fish I was eating the environment had to be destroyed, I would feel guilty for eating it. I hope this “Seafood Watch” continues to spread so I know where my food is coming from all the time!

  11. Jackie Salo says:

    While I think this is a great idea, I feel like it would be more effective if Seafood Watch pushed for initiatives to require that restaurants and food retailers label their products to say whether or not it was caught using safe practices. If I know to look for it, then I would be more inclined to think about where my food is coming from.

  12. Yaelherman says:

    It’s interesting to hear about how different methods of fishing can harm the environment. Most of the time, news agencies report on the harms that raising cattle cause to the environment, but it’s the first time I read on how fishing can be more sustainable. Consumers should take advantage of the efforts made by the Seafood Watch initiative and buy products that support fisherman and companies that care for the environment!

  13. Imperialshawn824 says:

    I think that this story was very informative. As a seafood lover, it makes me aware to that fact that there is sustainable seafood and that there are initiatives out there that push the effort of conserving the oceans.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I agree. I learned a lot that I was not aware of from this story. I love seafood and this article was very informative about different initiatives to help keep the ocean cleaner.

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