Curious About the Source? Seafood Watch Knows



Salmon is high on the list of things we need to keep an eye on. Image: Seafood Watch

The other day I asked around the office, “how many Deepblu users do you think consume seafood?” In my unscientific survey I gathered that, most likely, the number rested around 80%. But hey, let us know in the comments!

Having grown up on the water, the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore, Maryland to be exact, I love a good full meal of seafood. Marlin, oysters, and seabass fill my favorite tables and, to me, there’s not much that better than sitting out on a deck, cracking open a few crabs, and washing them down with National Bohemian, our local beer. I’ve been surrounded by this ritual my whole life, and I take it wherever I go. From California, to Korea, to Iowa, to Taiwan and the Deepblu office here, I dream of crabs the way Jiro dreams of sushi. But, being a water sports enthusiast and a lover of all things in this aquatic life, I also try to make the right choices.

When I was home in Baltimore last December, my first winter season with family in years, I wanted to go to the aquarium because I’m a nerd like that. In the food court I spotted a pop-up stand from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, hands-down my favorite marine life conservation center on America’s left coast. It looked like a food truck, and had a video playing of a chef preparing a meal. To the side of the truck there were a number of little pamphlets. I picked one up and got to browsing. It had a very comprehensive list of what to eat, in which season, where to get it, and what to be on the lookout for. I pocketed it and carried it around with me the rest of the trip, checking it against what I was ordering around town. This was my first introduction to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

1200px-MontereyBayAquariumBackview.jpgSeafood watch is housed in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium

The aquarium itself is quite exquisite. Located on the shores of Monterey Bay, it’s housed in an old sardine cannery at the end of the town’s famous Cannery Row. Over two million visitors stop by the non-profit aquarium every year to take in the sights, observe scientists at work, and get a unique experience that only the natural surroundings, an exhibit themselves, can provide. What’s on display ranges from their magnificent Ocean’s Edge Wing, focusing on California marine life, to several other exhibits that let people of all ages get close to animals from around America and the rest of the world.

Seafood Watch is a program started in 1999 that uses research-backed information on the fishing industry to help businesses and consumers make the best choices when it comes to the kind of seafood they put on their plate. Utilizing the resources of what could be considered one of the best aquarium staffs in the world, the program aims to promote responsible consumption and does so by ranking seafood and distributors according to sustainability and practices. The rankings, with an easy color system, let followers of the project know if a resource is green, for the best choices, yellow for ‘good alternative,’ and red for ‘avoid.’

To add to the already useful program is the Seafood Watch app, downloadable for iOS and Android, which stays in your pocket and allows you to look up sustainable seafood wherever you go. While it doesn’t work everywhere, it will remind you to check if the food you’re considering is pulled from sustainable and ethical sources. As Seafood Watch notes, all it takes is asking. In addition to being able to search for sustainable seafoods from the lists provided, the app allows users to find Seafood Watch affiliated restaurants and stores in their area. Currently this feature works best in North America, but there are companies and restaurants around the globe joining in on the partnership, and numbers are growing every day.

So, if you’re into seafood but you also feel even the slightest twinge of guilt about where it’s coming from, this small, free app, their resources, and their website could be just what you’re looking for. When I’m spreading my favorite way to spend an afternoon around the globe I’d like to know that I’m doing it responsibly, and Seafood Watch makes it that much easier.

Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor