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A Green Guide to Buying Sustainable Seafood

The size of your fish, its provenance, and how it was caught are some of the questions you should ask yourself to buy seafood without  impacting too much the environment. By taking a little time to seek out responsibly farmed or sustainably caught fish, you’ll ensure there will still be plenty of fish in the sea for generations to come.

Size Matters

Small fish tend to reproduce quickly and in greater numbers than larger species. As a result, over-fishing and sustainability aren’t as large of a concern with the little guys compared with their bigger buddies. Sardines, anchovies, shrimp, mussels, and other small seafood species are all eco-conscious (and healthy) seafood choices.  

Buy Local

The shorter the distance your fish have traveled to reach your grocer, the smaller their carbon footprint tends to be. That makes local fish a greener choice. Merchants that specialize in seafood may be better able to tell you where their fish came from, and how it was caught. 

Opt For “Hook and Line”

If you’re buying bigger varieties of fish, those caught using “hook and line” methods have the smallest impact on our oceans and fish species. On the other hand, “longlines” and “trawling” methods can harm the ocean floor and deplete fish stocks.

Don’t Fear Frozen

Don’t Fear Frozen

However your fish was caught, almost all fish are frozen before being sold. For one thing, freezing the fish preserves them during transport. Freezing also kills harmful parasites. And thanks to new freezing practices, you won’t sacrifice flavor or texture by purchasing frozen. If you’re struggling to find fresh fish caught sustainably and locally, you may have more luck with frozen options.

Wild Caught or Farmed?

There’s no simple rule-of-thumb when it comes to choosing between wild-caught and farmed fish. It really depends on the species. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) helps ensure fish are responsibly and sustainably sourced in both Europe and the U.S. Looking for an endorsement from the MSC or a similar organization is a reliable way to shop for ocean-friendly fish. 

Avoid Hormones and Antibiotics

While potentially unsafe for you, these chemical or hormone additives may also disrupt fish reproduction and sustainability in the wild. Whenever possible, look for hormone- and additive-free fish. The best way to do it is to buy certified organic fish products.

Buying low-impact, sustainable fish may require a little more time (and money). But both your health and the health of the planet will benefit if you make the extra effort when shopping for seafood.