All of our seafood recipe cards feature sustainable fish and shellfish. In addition to being healthy, these recipes help us learn how to choose sustainable meals. Who knew helping to improve the health of our ocean and its fisheries was so tasty!
Seafood is a staple in the diet of more than one billion people worldwide, and nearly as many rely on fish and shellfish as their main source of income. But the ocean is a fragile resource, and more than 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are currently overfished and being depleted faster than their populations can replenish. The primary issues affecting the sustainability of marine fisheries include overfishing, illegal fishing, habitat damage, bycatch, and management.
You can play an important role in protecting and preserving the ocean’s resources. Choosing sustainably caught or harvested seafood is a critical step in ensuring the ocean’s fisheries exist for the next generation. Sustainable seafood is:
- taken from a healthy population
- caught or farmed using methods that don’t harm other marine life
- from fisheries or farms that are responsibly managed
Pay attention to the seafood labels you see in your supermarket. Note where your fish comes from and if it is ”wild caught” or “farm-raised.” Some fish are more sustainable when caught in the wild, while others are healthier when farm-raised. Visit National Geographic's seafood decision guide for help choosing the healthiest, most sustainable option.
- Almost 90% of the shrimp eaten in the U.S., both wild-caught and farm-raised, is imported from unsustainable fisheries. Wild shrimp are caught with trawlers, huge nets that drag along the ocean floor and catch not only shrimp, but also many different species that are then thrown away. Some shrimp farms produce pollution that can destroy local environments. Choose domestic shrimp that are harvested in more sustainable ways.
- Tilapia can be an ocean-friendly choice, but choose wisely. Tilapia farmed in the United States is a sustainable option. Avoid tilapia farmed in China or Taiwan. It is the least ocean-friendly of all the tilapia harvests.
- People like to munch on many different types of crab. The species used in these recipes is Dungeness and is caught in traps along the west coast of North America. Dungeness is a great choice not only for its sweet and tender flesh but also because it is sustainably harvested.
- Salmon is caught and harvested in many places around the world, and your grocery store probably offers more than one option. Avoid salmon farmed in the Atlantic, where densley packed fish pens pollute surrounding waters and fish are often injected with antibiotics. Instead, look for wild-caught salmon from Alaska.
- Just as fruits and vegetables have seasons, so does wild-caught seafood. Seasonality is determined by many factors, like spawning cycles for fish, and molting patterns for crustaceans. Eating seasonally is important not only because seafood tastes better "in season," but also because it helps preserve marine populations.
- Check for fish advisories in your state before purchasing seafood. Local water quality can affect the health of fish in your neighborhood grocery store or fish market.
For more information on seafood that is good for you and for the ocean, visit Kidsafe Seafood's website.