Sunday, July 4, 2010

An Interview with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program, part 1

To kick off our first Oceans Week, we thought we would provide you with an interview from the experts at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Read on!

Can you tell us a little about the Seafood Watch Program. Why it began?

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program was an outgrowth of a 1997 special exhibition "Fishing for Solutions." The exhibit examined the practices of fishing and fish farming (aquaculture) and identified that not all practices are created equal. This resulted in a suite of recommendations consolidated onto a handy pocket guide that show consumers which species are "Best Choices", others that are "Good Alternatives" and which products to "Avoid." By shopping from mostly from the Best Choices list and occasionally from the Good Alternative list, consumers are helping to create a market for more sustainable product. Since the pocket guides were first printed in 1999, we have now distributed over 34 million guides. In addition, we have a free iPhone app, and a website with detailed information and the scientific reports on which the recommendations for each species are based.

For diners out there that love eating fish, what is the most important thing for them to know before ordering?

Not all fish are created equal. Our recommendations will help you navigate the waters. We think there are three simple questions to ask:

Where is this fish from?

Is this fish wild or farmed?

If it was wild-caught, how was it caught ?

Once you are armed with this type of information, you should be able to identify whether this is a species to avoid, or you can feel good about ordering.

If you're unable to get all the answers you need to make a responsible choice, we might suggest you pick something else. However, be sure to let the wait staff now that you are interested in ocean-friendly seafood and that’s how you make your choices. Ask the wait staff to share your concerns with their chef – satisfying customer needs is important to them and can really make a difference in how they approach their seafood purchases. Something else to feel good about!

For more information about the Seafood Watch Program, or to access the Seafood Watch Guide, please visit -

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