What Is Sustainable Seafood?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2019
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Sustainable seafood is a term that describes both a public awareness movement about the problem of over-harvesting of fish and seafood as well as fish and seafood that is harvested in an ecologically responsible manner. The cause of responsibly harvested seafood is promoted by several conservation organizations. Some retailers and restaurant owners make a point of purchasing only sustainable seafood to sell to their customers.

Many people have become concerned about the way fisheries operate and the possible long-term effects of seafood harvesting and fishing on delicate ecosystems. In response to this concern, organizations that study conservation issues have begun to promote the cause of sustainable seafood. By choosing to eat fish and seafood that has been deemed sustainable, individuals can continue to enjoy eating the foods they like while ensuring that there will be enough fish and seafood for future generations.


Fish and seafood that is considered to be sustainable can vary from year to year as changes in ecosystems and farming practices are observed by conservation organizations that monitor the fish and seafood industries. Many of these organizations publish an annual sustainable seafood list that can help consumers, retailers, and shops make decisions about the fish and seafood that they consume. These lists can frequently be downloaded from the organization's websites and may be available in a brochure format so that individuals can take a list of sustainable seafood with them when they go shopping or dining. Some conservation groups also allow retailers of sustainable seafood to affix a seal or label to their products so that consumers can easily identify sustainable products.

For individuals who are concerned about making sure that the seafood they eat is sustainable, it is important to note that in many cases what determines whether something is a sustainable seafood may have less to do with the species of fish or seafood and more to do with how it is raised, how it is caught, and the location from which it is sourced. In some cases, farmed seafood may be a more sustainable choice than that which is wild caught. It is equally important for those who purchase fish and seafood to find out where their fish and seafood comes from. In some areas, fish and seafood is managed and caught in a more sustainable manner, making it important for both advocacy groups and consumers to pay attention to product labels and ask suppliers for more details about where their fish and seafood originates.


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