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Posted May 2006

Sustainable Seafood at Monterey
Bay Aquarium


MONTEREY—While salmon might do wonders for your waistline, it’s not always so great for the environment. According to Seafood WATCH, run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, farmed salmon can interfere and even overwhelm native salmon populations and waste from the farms can contribute to environmental damage.

A better choice, they say, is wild Alaskan salmon caught in fewer numbers and carefully managed. California and Pacific Northwest salmon is also a good choice, but there are concerns about the long-term sustainability of the species due to logging and dams. (You can read much more here.)

Confused? Baffled? Don’t be. Seafood Watch makes it simple to make good choices with a guide to “best choices”, and keeps an updated tally of what fish and seafood are sustainably harvested and humanely caught—basically what you should and shouldn’t be eating when it comes to keeping the ocean’s bounty safe.

This year, to get the word out to chefs and consumers, it will host Cooking for Solutions on May 19-20. The event features such culinary big wigs as Sonoma’s John Ash, celebrity chef Rick Bayless, Nancy Oakes of San Francisco’s Boulevard, as well as a number of others who will be discussing practical uses of sustainable seafood and recipes. The event will also feature tours of nearby Earthbound farms, which uses sustainable and organic methods of farming. Tickets and pricing information is available on the aquarium’s website,

So, why all the fuss? Seafood WATCH was created in the late 1990s for an exhibit at the aquarium to help consumers understand the impact they could have on the ocean environment. Environmental organizations, including the aquarium were discovering that over fishing in certain areas was having a huge impact on entire ocean ecosystems. Popular restaurant fish—like swordfish, caviar or Chilean sea bass were becoming perilously close to becoming endangered, and the word needed to get out to eaters that these weren't good choices for the long-term health of the ocean.

By giving consumers the information, SeafoodWATCH hopes to let all of us help in making changes. And it's working: the numbers of dolphins and other aquatic life being trapped in tuna nets lead to quick and sweeping changes in how tuna are caught and consumer labeling, allowing people to know that they are contributing to the long-term health of the environment and species.

For more information on what you can do, go to

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