Friday, May 13, 2016

Sustainable Seafood at the Monterey Aquarium

Omid and Kelly at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
By Omid Vojdani 

Be Seafood Smart
As a health coach, seafood is a delicious and nutritious part of any diet I recommend to any client to improve health and wellness. But aside from teaching clients about the healthy fats and great quality protein of fish, I also find it incredibly important to educate clients about where their food comes from. Most importantly, are the foods we eat having a positive or negative impact on the environment? As a sustainability advocate, I was thrilled to find an amazing tool to that I can share with clients to help make picking sustainable seafood a breeze. 

In 1999, Monterey Bay Aquarium started their Seafood Watch Program. Starting as a pocket guide updated twice a year, it has evolved into a free and easy to use smart phone app updated twice a month, providing users with a customizable list of what fish to avoid and what fish are approved based on fishing practices. Seafood Watch also includes a list of restaurants that have partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium to provide a menu dedicated to serving sustainable seafood. 

For example, for years I’ve personally been avoiding tuna, believing that the prize fish has been overfished near to extinction. But using the Seafood Watch app, I’ve discovered that tuna is no longer off the menu entirely if I choose tuna from specific parts of the world. For example, in the US North Pacific, albacore tuna has strict regulations on the amount fisherman can catch, and even more regulations on how farms can raise the fish. But in the South Atlantic, the albacore is fished without regard to sustainability, and the ecosystem is on the verge of collapse. 

The good news is that we as consumers have enormous power to influence how these fish make their way to our plate in two ways. One way is to simply ask anytime you can where your fish came from. If enough restaurants and fisherman hear this question, the awareness will spread. The second way is to simply vote with your dollars. In supermarkets, the source location of the fish is listed, and by using the Seafood Watch app, you can make the most ecologically wise decision on what to buy.

With Seafood Watch, we can impact sustainability practices around the world, all while enjoying the healthy seafood we love. Join me, Edible Skinny, and Monterey Bay Aquarium in continuing to educate the public to this issue, and we CAN make a difference.

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