With so many considerations to weigh when you look for fish caught or farmed sustainably, it’s good to know that there are plenty of tools to help us all navigate the seemingly countless seafood choices out there. Handy seafood guides exist in the form of wallet cards, mobile apps or detail-rich websites.
But which guide should you use? To help you buy the most sustainable fruits of the sea, here are some of the best seafood guides categorized by what you really need.
Are you just an occasional seafood eater?
Seafood Watch: Probably the best-known guide on this list – and with a great mobile app – the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s guide is one of easiest to navigate. Be sure to check out their regional guides to get the scoop on locally caught fish and other seafood.
Sea Choice: Not all seafood guides are US-centric. If you’re in Canada, consider Sea Choice your personal fish guide. The site presents straightforward recommendations and provides plenty of links for those who are interested in the health of the ocean and Canada’s fisheries.
Do you eat seafood year-round?
The Safina Center: The Safina Center's guide (and app) is full of options for those who really love seafood. They can help you navigate sushi menus or help you plan dinner with better alternatives. This guide also covers mercury concerns with your fish choices.
Ocean Wise: Based on four criteria, Vancouver-based Ocean Wise recommends certain types of seafood to consume. The guide lets provides their recommendations based on harvest method, if the fish was farmed and what region the fish came from. For example, Ocean Wise recommends barramundi farmed in the US, but not barramundi wild-caught from Indonesia. They now have an app that contains the guide and shows you Ocean Wise restaurants and partners across Canada.
Do you know the basics but need the details?
Fish Watch: National Marine Fisheries Service has an exhaustive, but highly readable, overview of the fish of your choice. If you're at all interested in the biology, population status, management or even nutritional content among myriad other points of information about a particular fish, this is your go-to guide.
FishChoice: FishChoice is an online network for fish suppliers and buyers, not a guide for seafood aisle browsers. The site includes a seafood search, to help fish purveyors source specific fish species, and a thorough supplier directory. The site gives diners a peak behind the sustainable seafood business chain.
One thing these guides cannot do is tell you whether the fish you just ordered is truly what you're about to eat. An Oceana study found that fish are mislabeled or misrepresented about one-third of the time. Until there is a seafood DNA testing app, don’t be shy to ask your fishmonger or waiter lots of questions.