Fish for dinner? Best Choices for the Planet

What are the best and worst seafood choices for the environment?

Best to choose:
Atlantic herring
Crab--blue or Dengeness and stone
Wild Salmon from Alaska

Best to Avoid
American Lobster
Atlantic cod
Atlantic halibut
Chilean Sea Bass

What makes one fish safer or more desirable to eat than another: farming practices, mercury levels, habitat damage, and overfishing of certain species.

Farming practices: Farmed Atlantic Salmon pose a threat to wild fish because of the parasites found in their waste which is eventually dumped into the ocean; the amount of food needed to sustain them; and the open pens which allow them to escape bringing parasites and disease to wild fish especially to the Atlantic Salmon. Change is occurring but at a slow rate. Better choice: Wild Alaskan Salmon.

Overfishing: some species mature at a slower rate than others. Selecting fish from these species does not allow them enough time to grow to maturity and reproduce themselves. Because state of the art fishing trawlers can detect schools of fish, sweep them up, prepare them for flash freezing and storage maturity of the fish becomes a moot point. Unscrupulous companies catch according to popular tastes. Yellowtail and bigeyed Tuna will be extinct within the next 3 to 5 years, also included in this category is the Patagonian tooth fish (Chilean Sea bass), and Atlantic Cod. Better choice: Tiliapia or Pacific halibut.

Habitat damage: Habitat damage is not only caused by global warming but also from the fishing practices of large trawlers destroying the natural balance of the oceans by killing smaller fish, plankton, slow growing coral, and krill through their fishing practices. Choose fish that are caught by pole-and-line (see below).

Fishing Practices: Longline or purse seines (use of nets to catch large schools of fish) result in moderate to high bycatch of seabirds, turtles and marine mammals. Pole-and-line caught fish are a better choice. A growing number of restaurants will indicate how their fish were caught. If the information is not available on the menu, ask the wait person.

Mercury Levels: Mercury levels in tuna is a worldwide ecological problem. Most high levels are found in bluefin tuna. Buyer beware.