Quantcast

5 Things to Consider When Ordering Seafood

Food

Ever think about where your seafood comes from? You might be surprised to learn that much of the seafood sold in the U.S. is imported—frequently from places where health, safety and environmental standards are weak or non-existent. And less than 2 percent of seafood imports to the U.S. are inspected for contamination.

Sadly, many popular wild fish populations have been managed poorly and are depleted, are caught using gear that can hurt their habitat and other wildlife, or could contain substances like mercury or PCBs that can cause serious health problems.

Photo credit:
Shutterstock

Fortunately, there are still good domestic seafood options.

Food & Water Watch has analyzed more than 100 fish and shellfish to create the Smart Seafood Guide, the only guide that assesses the human health and environmental impacts of eating certain seafood, as well as the socio-economic impacts on coastal and fishing communities. The guide can help you make healthier and more eco-friendly choices.

Here's an excerpt from the guide of five things to consider the next time you are considering buying seafood at the grocery store or ordering it in a restaurant.

1. Local fish are few and far between. While diners at coastal restaurants often look forward to ordering seafood, much of the fish at restaurants and in stores is not local. Because of high demand, seafood on these menus often comes from other states or countries, so always remember to ask rather than assume that seafood is local and sustainable.

2. Atlantic salmon is farmed salmon. While Alaskan wild-caught salmon can be a healthy, sustainable option, farmed salmon is associated with environmental and social problems. One red-flag is salmon labeled Atlantic. As wild Atlantic salmon populations have been driven close to extinction, salmon from this ocean are almost surely farmed.

3. Seafood labeled organic is not what it seems: There are no legal organic standards for seafood in the U.S., so fish labeled organic are imported, usually from northern Europe. And seafood labeled organic is farmed, not wild-caught.

4. Beware of imported shrimp: Although the U.S. has many healthy shrimp fisheries that support coastal communities, about 90 percent of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported. Much of it comes from farms that are associated with heavy chemical use, environmental destruction and negative impacts for local communities.

5. Bivalve shellfish are often good options: In some cases, bivalve shellfish, like mussels, oysters and clams, are the most likely seafood items at restaurants or markets to be sustainably sourced. These fish are filter feeders, which means that even when farmed they can help to improve local environments by cleaning up water. Just remember to ask about local contaminant warnings, and in the case of clams, whether they are hand-raked or dredged.

For more information and many more detailed recommendations on specific kinds of seafood to buy, see the Smart Seafood Guide.

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A worker in California sprays pesticides on strawberries, one of the crops on which chlorpyrifos is used. Paul Grebliunas / The Image Bank / Getty Images Plus

President Donald Trump's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not ban the agricultural use of chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide that the EPA's own scientists have linked to brain damage in children, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Read More Show Less
Conservationists estimate the orange-fronted parakeet population has likely doubled. Department of Conservation

Up until 25 years ago, New Zealand's orange-fronted parakeet, or kākāriki karaka, was believed to be extinct. Now, it's having one of its best breeding seasons in decades, NPR reported Thursday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Pexels

The world's population will hit 10 billion in just 30 years and all of those people need to eat. To feed that many humans with the resources Earth has, we will have to cut down the amount of beef we eat, according to a new report by the World Resources Institute.

Read More Show Less

Beachgoers enjoying a pleasant evening on Georgia's St. Simons Island rushed into the water, despite warnings of sharks, to rescue dozens of short-finned pilot whales that washed ashore on Tuesday evening, according to the New York Times.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Six Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested as they blocked off corporations in the UK. The group had increased their actions to week-long nationwide protests.

Read More Show Less
Sari Goodfriend

By Courtney Lindwall

Across the world, tens of thousands of young people are taking to the streets to protest climate inaction. And at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem last month, more than a dozen of them took to the stage.

Read More Show Less
Pumpjacks on Lost Hills Oil Field in California. Arne Hückelheim, Wikimedia Commons

By Julia Conley

A national conservation group revealed Wednesday that President Donald Trump's drilling leases on public lands could lead to the release of more carbon emissions than the European Union contributes in an entire year.

Read More Show Less