Good, Better, Best: Seafood

Good, Better, Best: Seafood

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A vegan weight loss program often is the single most effective manner for people to attenuate their environmental affect, however giving up meat is a big problem for many individuals. A pescatarian diet — which means consuming fish and different seafood however no different meats — is usually a sensible step on the street to veganism or perhaps a everlasting middle ground between a dangerous weight loss program and one which’s laborious to keep up.

Fish is a simple, wholesome protein supply that may fulfill the meat craving with out triggering (for some individuals) the identical moral issues as consuming mammals. Environmentally talking, although, the affect of consuming seafood can differ rather a lot. Here’s how one can make your seafood weight loss program as eco-friendly as attainable.


According to Seafood Watch’s carbon emissions tool, crustaceans have the very best carbon footprint of all proteins, as a result of so few are caught from every journey, and since they require a lot bait. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has a certification for these crustaceans, however not one of the licensed lobsters and only some of the crabs get the inexperienced gentle from Seafood Watch. It’s normally good to keep away from consuming crustaceans.

Farmed shrimp are virtually as damaging to the surroundings as consuming pink meat. Poorly regulated shrimp farms in Asia destroy mangrove forests and pollute waterways, can produce antibiotic-contaminated shrimp, and have even been linked to human trafficking. To discover responsibly harvested shrimp, search for shrimp licensed by one of many Seafood Watch-approved labels, together with Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Naturland, and Global Seafood Alliance (formerly Global Aquaculture Alliance).

Surprisingly, tuna is an effective alternative. Tuna has a carbon footprint that’s decrease than most marine whitefish and even farmed freshwater fish. However, overfishing and bycatch (the seize or destruction of non-target species) are vital problems with tuna fishing. When shopping for tuna, the main points make a big difference in sustainability. Skipjack/gentle tuna and albacore/white tuna typically have decrease carbon impacts than different sorts of tuna. Tuna that’s caught within the U.S. by trolling or handline fishing strategies is best than tuna caught with drifting longlines or floating object purse seines (FAD). Whatever form of tuna you purchase, search for MSC certification.

Despite the potential of some newer land-based aquaculture tasks, farmed fish typically leads to carbon emissions which might be corresponding to pork or turkey. Salmon aquaculture on each the East Coast and West Coast has a historical past of environmental violations. Fish farms contribute to water air pollution and jeopardize the well being and genetic integrity of untamed fish populations. It is at all times good to search for eco-certification when shopping for farmed fish to attenuate these impacts.


Wild-caught fish is a better option than farmed fish. Both wild-caught salmonids and marine whitefish have a decrease carbon footprint than their farmed counterparts, regardless of the gasoline necessities of ocean-going vessels.

Salmonids like arctic char and steelhead trout could also be higher decisions than salmon, which is at better danger of overfishing. The impacts of various species of whitefish and strategies of catching them differ broadly. Generally, species that stay nearer to the ocean’s floor are higher decisions than deep-water fish.


Farmed shellfish has a a lot decrease carbon footprint than wild-harvested, regardless of restricted information and questions on water high quality impacts. Filter-feeding clams, oysters, and different mollusks require low inputs. In reality, they require no added feed (which contributes to eutrophication at fish farms). Farmed mollusks are among the many finest decisions for a low-carbon protein supply.

Small pelagics are small-sized ocean fish from schooling species similar to anchovies, mackerel, menhaden, and herring. These species are at all times wild-caught, by no means farmed. For wild-caught seafood, the gasoline used to energy fishing boats is normally the most important contributor to the carbon footprint. Ships that catch small pelagics are usually extra gasoline environment friendly and catch their hundreds .

Overfishing continues to be a priority, however as a rule of thumb, small pelagics are essentially the most sustainable seafood alternative.


From a local weather standpoint, seafood (besides lobster) is at all times a better option than pink meat. But the total affect of a specific seafood alternative relies upon lots on fishing strategies and whether or not the fishery is well-managed to keep away from overfishing. Letting sellers know there’s a demand for extra sustainable seafood will make a distinction. When you’re on the fish counter, you should definitely ask if their seafood is sustainable.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium helps customers make the absolute best seafood decisions. You can verify the Seafood Watch App without cost, up to date seafood suggestions when you’re meals purchasing or ordering in a restaurant. Print a sustainable seafood guide to maintain in your pockets. Or dig deeper into the main points of their recommendations on the Seafood Watch internet web page.

Originally revealed on September 24, 2020, this text was up to date in January 2022.

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