Sustainable Food Guide: Seafood

Information compiled by Valeria Martinez and Brenna O'Dea

Research has shown that the appetite for seafood is increasing worldwide, and with that the exploitation and depletion of fisheries. Our oceans are being so overfished that very soon our favorite fish may disappear from the seafood counter and restaurant table all together. Unsustainable fishing is depleting the world's fish stocks and destroying marine habitats, but you can help change this. Consumer demand for sustainable seafood can act as an extremely powerful incentive for better fisheries management (1).

Brian Halweil, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute provides tips on how to continue enjoying the health benefits of seafood while avoiding fishery depletions and the toxins present in many fish(1).

If you buy, or ask for, seafood that comes from sustainable sources you are helping to protect our marine environment and, at the same time, ensuring that seafood can be enjoyed for many years to come.

  • Buy sustainable seafood. In supermarkets, look for seafood products with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel; or go to supermarkets that stock MSC-certified seafood (such as Aldi and Whole Foods). By purchasing MSC-certified seafood products, consumers, retailers, and traders are helping to encourage and reward responsible fisheries. Without the MSC label, your seafood may well stem from illegally fished or overfished sources. 

What is MSC?

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent, non-profit organization set up to find a solution to the problem of overfishing. It has set an environmental standard to identify sustainable fisheries and you can spot seafood that meets this standard by looking for the distinctive blue MSC label. This gives you a simple way to identify - and purchase - fish from well-managed sources.

Graphic by Brenna O'Dea

Graphic by Brenna O'Dea

If you are looking for more information on how to exactly determine what qualifies as a sustainable fish source in the Midwest, The Sweetwater Foundation is a great option.  It is a nonprofit organization providing education to the public about both urban agriculture and aquaponics.  Another resource is Hooked on Fish, a Chicago based Community Supported Fishery working to provide sustainably caught and farmed fish to the community.  They provide information to customers on both sustainability within the wild and farmed fish world, as they realize not everyone can afford or gain access to wild caught fish at all times.