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August 26, 2008

Fish Food for Thought

Posted: 11:11 AM ET

Attention all seafood lovers. Put down your forks, knives, and crab mallets for a moment and listen up.

According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, Americans consume close to 5 billion pounds of seafood annually. But that’s only a third of the marine life the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates fishermen discard globally each year as bycatch, or species unintentionally caught in fishing gear. What’s more, the FAO classifies 75% of the world’s fisheries as either fully exploited or overexploited.

Source: Seafood Watch

Scientists today may understand the environmental consequences of overfishing and harmful fishing practices, but for the Average Joe it’s not so cut and dry. It’s difficult for regular consumers to know whether their seafood dinner is simply tasty protein or a contributing factor to a fishery’s collapse.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation is trying to change that with their newly updated Seafood Watch Pocket Guides.

About the size of a credit card, the Seafood Watch Pocket Guide fits easily into any wallet. But it’s the information inside the guide that’s really impressive. Based on fisheries’ management, sustainability, and environmental impacts, the Pocket Guide ranks common seafood products into three categories: Best Choice, Good Alternative, and Avoid.

It also gives advice on seafood to avoid for health reasons, such as the increased mercury and other contaminant levels in species with high fat content.

The Pocket Guide is updated twice a year to ensure seafood recommendations correspond to current events in the world of fishing. For example, the new version removed California and Oregon wild-caught salmon from the guide altogether because the fisheries were recently closed to fishing. (Watch this for more information).

Seafood Watch hopes the guide will help consumers make smart choices when purchasing seafood at restaurants, grocery stores, and even sushi bars.

“Consumer purchasing power can make a difference by supporting those fisheries and fish farms that are better for the environment, while at the same time relieving pressure on others that are not doing as well,” says Sheila Bowman, the program’s Outreach Manager, “The choices we make as consumers drive the seafood market place.”

Seafood Watch distributes its national and regional Pocket Guides through partner organizations across the United States and Canada. You can download your own guide at or get it on your cell phone by pointing its internet browser to

Julia Griffin, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: environment • Oceans

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Franko   August 26th, 2008 12:13 pm ET

"that’s only a third of the marine life the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates fishermen discard globally each year as bycatch"

Wasted catfood, people food. Waste not, want not.

John Tackett   August 26th, 2008 3:33 pm ET

Just a note, the Georgia Aquarium has the same "Seafood Savvy" card available for guests. It is modeled after the Monterey Aquarium.

Franko   August 26th, 2008 10:45 pm ET

" 75% of the world’s fisheries as either fully exploited or overexploited."

Large parts of the oceans, the Gyre, are nutritional deserts.
Water, sunlight, air, CO2, all there. Main missing ingredient is Iron.

Sprinkle Iron dust. Create giant algea blooms, little and big fish, the result.
Land plants will become CO2 starved ? Stewards of our hunger, calculate it.

Peyton   August 31st, 2008 6:17 am ET

Maybe this is a sign that we should stop encouraging people to reproduce and maybe educate them on mainting the current population.

I'm not sure I like the idea of modifying the ocean's environment, especially since we don't really understand what negative impacts of doing something like that (we have not been traditionally good at analyzing negative effects of our own science).

Franko   August 31st, 2008 12:01 pm ET

Time marches forward, Earth not a museum, shark swims or sinks.
Boundless imagination, modeling every way, implementing with caution.

Next frontier is the Ocean, the Gyre are natural for sea farming, floating cities.
The population expansion, soon, not technologically land limited.
Science fantasy, science fiction, modeling the possibility, then reality.
Swarm the Earth, Bible Command, extrapolated. Mermaids in bikini ?

Ken Peterson   October 1st, 2008 12:20 pm ET

In addition to the other seafood guides, a new guide to sustainable sushi debuts on October 22, 2008, also at - Ken Peterson, Monterey Bay Aquarium

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