Yes! There’s an app for that…
Shopping for fish is tough for a conscious consumer. There are a lot of conflicting points of view in the scientific community around the fishing industry – farmed fish, wild caught, stock estimates, size limits, bycatch, mercury… There is always a new report to demystify the last and make me more confused about my choices when it comes to the sea.
Fortunately there is a guide that’s relevant to your location, updated regularly, and comes from a pretty trustworthy source.
The Seafood Watch guide published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium isn’t going to make you a fish expert, but it will take you from newb to conscious pescatarian. And guess what? They have an app! So you don’t even really need to think. (They have a printable pocket guide too if you prefer.)
The guide makes it easy. When you search for a fish you get recommendations to help you make sustainable decisions. Your favorite fish may fall into one of three categories:
- Best Choices – These are considered to be well managed fisheries, caught or farmed in ways that cause little harm to habitats or other wildlife.
- Good Alternatives – There are concerns with how these fish are caught or farmed.
- Avoid – Fish in this group are over fished or caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment.
The Seafood Watch app has some other helpful features too:
- You can search for sushi by Japanese name and common market name
- There is a function to help you find restaurants and stores near you that serve ocean-friendly seafood. This feature provides a map of their “business and restaurant partners”. This part of the app could be a little more robust – my results in San Diego consisted of 4 Whole Food locations.
- Business Partners – Restaurants and/or major retailers that have made a commitment to sell only environmentally responsible seafood.
- Restaurant Partners – Restaurants that no longer serve items from the red “Avoid” list. They also train their staff and help raise awareness in their communities.
- Their recommendations will update regularly
- You can get information about aquaculture, fishing and farming methods, seafood sustainability, and wild seafood if you’re interested in learning more.
- They provide information about relative eco labels when you search for a fish
I’ve previously been using the pocket guide and I’m pleasantly surprised with the functionality of the app. It’s easy to use and lets you dig deeper into information about seafood at your own pace.
All in all, the guide provides helpful information that makes decision making around seafood way easier. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand the info and try to decide what to eat, but if you want to act like one you can dig deeper and learn more!
A sneak preview of the Seafood Watch App:
A view of the pocket guide (this one is for CA):