Sustainable Seafood 101

Seafood Watch

[dropcap1]A[/dropcap1]s the hood is being hung and the drywall goes up on the walls, we wanted to take a moment out to discuss sustainable seafood. We all know the Midwest has plenty of freshwater fish but when it comes to what we consume much of that comes from the oceans. Place your average Midwesterner in front of the seafood counter or a restaurant menu and we are a lot less confident about which items might be sustainable. While we may not all seek the briny goodness of the sea, for those of you who do we hope you will find the following information helpful.

Before discussing the the informative sources available, we would like to address the question of which type of fish is “best”. There is a lot of discussion about farm raised vs. wild caught, etc. This is where, in our opinion, research & personal choice must come into play. To decide what your own criteria is, getting informed is key.

First, let’s take a gander at the word sustainable. Distilled to the simplest explanation, it refers to the ability of a species to endure and be productive. In other words, we can reasonably consume such species, without damaging their ability to reproduce and thrive or significantly damage their ecosystem (other creatures who may rely on them for food or vice versa, keeping populations in check). With that said, sustainability is an evolving thing, with the ebb and flow of nature and our impact on it. This ever changing set of circumstances warrants that we have some reliable sources to obtain such info easily . Fortunately, in a world of Apps your answers are only as far away as the nearest smartphone or iPad. If you want to explore the concept of seafood sustainability there are many options for help.
We have selected a few resources we think you will find useful. The first guide that we really like is Seafood Watch run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This website also offers an App which provides lists organized by Best, Good Alternative and Avoid. The lists consider sustainability as well as if there are concerns with how the fish may be farmed or caught. They also have interactive guides that allow you to list or find restaurants or stores by location that adhere to sustainable seafood practices. This site is far and away our favorite for the consumer for its comprehensive and user-friendly approach.

There are a few others we would like to highlight. The Seafood Choices Alliance is a an international group founded on the premise of providing leadership and advocacy for change in the global fish supply market. The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership again helps fisherman and suppliers with guidance about sustainability and environmental concerns.
Marine Stewardship Council

Last but not least, what do you look for in the supermarket to identify the type of fish that you want. The best thing to do is to look for the seal of the Marine Stewardship Council which labels sustainable seafood. Costco and Whole Foods are just two of the many stores that utilize this system. It takes the guesswork out of sustainability. If you find that things are not labelled ask the fishmonger as they should be knowledgable about their supply.

At Autre Monde we plan to adhere to these practices and look forward to bringing you great seafood items as part of our menu. Until then, hope these resources prove helpful in your search for seafood.