Holy mackerel, but I would be a vegetarian if it weren’t for my love of seafood. Like me, do you remorselessly feast on our cousins from the seas, lakes, and estuaries of the world? Give me mahi mahi, salmon, the Alaskan king crab, tilapia, trout, clam chowder, cod, ahi tuna, shrimp, catfish, eel, scallops, calamari, haddock, snapper, halibut… if it makes its home underwater and is cleared as sustainable — I’ve probably partaken of its delicious, fishy flesh. (Not Patrick Duffy, though. He’s safe — being the last man from Atlantis is about as unsustainable as it gets.)
The word is getting out about sustainable seafood and its merits — primarily for the continuing health of the world’s waterways and their capacity to provide us with their bounties forever and ever. Even celebrity chefs like Alex Guarnaschelli, Alton Brown, Rick Bayless, Sam Choy, Rick Moonen, and Jim Dodge — who know more than anyone why it’s important not to crap in the kitchen — are vowing to use only sustainable seafood for their meals. Many restaurants and supermarkets are becoming aware of the appeal of sustainable seafood, and advertise accordingly.
Unfortunately, when we average folks go out dining or shopping at places where the ownership’s not yet on board, knowing the difference between sustainable seafood and unsustainable seafood can be troublesome — but not impossible when we’ve got help.
Since 1999, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has organized its Seafood Watch program to raise awareness of what constitutes sustainable seafood (and how to avoid and discourage the use of unsustainable seafood). While it’s been possible to write to the aquarium for years and get free bundles of Seafood Watch pocket guides to hand out to people, restaurants, and businesses that consume and benefit from the consumption of seafood, knowing the difference between sustainable seafood and unsustainable seafood is now just the press of a smartphone button away with the free Seafood Watch app (available on iOS and Android)!
Features of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch App
- Information provided is always current (seafood that was deemed sustainable yesterday may not be sustainable today, and vice versa).
- Your phone’s GPS helps the app pinpoint your region’s appropriate guide.
- Rankings range from Best Choice to Avoid — with a Good Alternative offered as a substitute in place of seafood to be avoided.
- Its sushi guide recognizes seafood as searched by its common market name or in Japanese.
- Project FishMap allows users to contribute and share stores, restaurants, and businesses that offer sustainable seafood.
- Super Green seafood is featured for those who want to go above and beyond for the cause.
So if you’re hankering for a hunk of sashimi, you can know for sure if it’s sweetly sustainable seafood or grody sweatshop fish. If we want to enjoy the gifts of Neptune tomorrow, we have to take care of our oceans, lakes, and rivers today. With a little education and a lot of science, it’s not an impossible dream.