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Seafood Watch Issues Updated Consumer Guide

Handy app/pocket guide helps you to know in which cod to trust

With trout season opening this Saturday morning in Connecticut (and with some good luck), a lot of folks will be enjoying a fresh fish dinner Saturday evening.

Anglers, of course, should be following all the rules – such as having a current license and bringing home only five “keeper” trout per day. Obeying a “creel limit” ensures that there are enough fish for everyone, and also can help to sustain the fish population over time.

As we’ve written about previously, sustaining marine fish populations is a huge issue these days. The Pew Charitable Trusts says that, “of 600 species monitored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, only 23 percent are not overexploited.”

The issue: many species of fish are seriously “overfished,” meaning that they are being caught at a rate faster than they can reproduce – to the point that the species’ continued existence actually may be in peril.  That’s bad.

When you hear the term “sustainable seafood,” that is seafood that is being caught in numbers or by methods that will allow for those species to thrive. That’s good.

As consumers, how do you know what to eat? Fortunately, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program can help us to make smart “ocean-friendly” decisions when we’re at the market or at restaurants.

And their “spring 2013” guide is now available.

You can get in on their recommendations in three ways. You can download the Seafood Watch app on your smart phone. You can go online to www.seafoodwatch.org and download a guide. (Online, there are guides for five regions of our country, including the Northeast.) Or you can pick up a handy pocket guide during your next Maritime Aquarium visit. The guides are in our Cascade Café and our “Go Fish” exhibit.

On each Seafood Watch guide, you’ll find three lists: Best Choices, Good Alternatives and seafood to Avoid.  In the updated guides, Best Choices include Pacific halibut, farmed scallops, farmed Arctic char, oysters and clams, and Alaskan salmon. Good Alternatives include bluefish, various flatfish from U.S. waters, lobster, Atlantic and Alaskan pollock, and U.S. wild shrimp.

Species on the Avoid list include Chilean sea bass, farmed salmon, imported shrimp and Atlantic cod.

How do you know what exactly is filleted there in the deli case? Is it cod you can buy (imported Atlantic cod caught by hook-and-line) or cod you should avoid (U.S. and Canadian Atlantic cod)? Well, your seafood retailers should be able to tell you. And if they can’t, we as consumers should start pressuring them into knowing and following sustainable seafood guidelines too.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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