Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is "Red List" Seafood?

Facebook has caught on to my environmentalist leanings. I've been getting ads about Costco serving "Red List" seafood and some groups are boycotting it because of this.

My first thought: What the heck is "Red List" seafood? A little Googling and some links from my time in Conservation Biology found me the answer.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has done research to scientifically rank seafood products based on how friendly they are to our oceanic environments. Like a traffic light, they are ranked green, yellow, and red.

Green seafood, or the "Best Choice" seafood, are abundant, well-managed, and farmed or caught in ways that are good for the environment or that do not harm it.

Yellow seafood, or "Good Alternatives", have some concerns about how they're procured, either through fishing or farming, or have habitats which are slightly threatened due to human activities. They're an option, but it's recommended that consumers avoid them.

Red seafood, or "Avoid" list, are currently overfished or farmed/caught in ways that harm the environment and other marine life.

They offer a list, which can be found on the above site, for each region of the US, which they suggest you print and keep with you when you go out for seafood. Download a Regional Seafood Watch Card | Monterey Bay Aquarium. There's also one for sushi if you love that as much as I do.

Keep this in mind when shopping. Ghost fishing and unsustainable fishing can be as wasteful as industry, and farmed salmon takes three times the food to raise as wild. Ghost fishing (accidental catching and killing done by lost nets, line, and hooks) kills nearly 1/3 as much as legal fishing. Animals often caught include dolphins and sea-turtles. We can make small differences by choosing wisely at the counter. 

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