Sustainable Fish jpg
image by Charting Nature

Sustainable Seafood Is More Than A Trend

Sustainable seafood is no longer just a specialty niche for a few “earth-friendly chefs”.  As sustainable seafood programs become more main stream and popular with the public, it becomes even more necessary for chefs to educate ourselves about the importance of sustainability, how it impacts our menu design, and how to respond to the public regarding sustainable seafood on our menus.

Below are six of the world’s most recognized leaders of the sustainable seafood movement.  Each organization has a unique perspective and valuable information to offer to the seafood industry and to chefs.  Some are geared more towards certifying specific products, while others provide comprehensive information about many species.

Sustainable Shellfish jpg
image by Charting Nature



Blue Ocean Institute

Blue Ocean Institute developed a comprehensive seafood analysis and methodology referred to as the Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood. This methodology addresses both wild and farmed seafood with five criteria. These criteria are scored and input into a quantitative five color-coded rating system called the ‘fish color.’ Green is the score for the most sustainable and red for least sustainable.

Chefs are the gatekeepers of the seafood industry. They command a unique influence over the purchase, trade and consumption of seafood. The flow of seafood sustainability information to chefs, while on the rise, isn’t powerful enough.  To help expand sustainable seafood awareness, Blue Ocean Institute co-sponsored the Green Chefs, Blue Ocean Sustainabe Seafood Course.

The Blue Ocean Institute seafood program appears to no longer be in business.




FishWise is a non-profit organization designed to improve the sustainability and financial performance of seafood retailers, distributors, and producers. Uniquely positioned between the seafood industry and marine conservation organizations, FishWise offers a range of services that create trust between seafood vendors and their customers, enabling businesses to sell more sustainable seafood, more profitably. FishWise joins business imperatives with leading ocean conservation strategies.

The FishWise program delivers sustainable solutions to the seafood industry that blend scientific analysis with business strategy and industry relationships. We ensure the scientific integrity of our methods through consistent research of fisheries and aquaculture operations, in collaboration with credible partners like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, World Wildlife Fund, and many others. FishWise helps source, assess, provide point-of-sale information, and staff training about the vast majority of seafood products available on today’s markets. This is combined with a host of other tools tailored to your individual needs that develop customer trust in the seafood products you sell, building loyalty and increasing sales. FishWise member companies are at the forefront of the sustainable seafood movement, proving that you can protect oceans and make a profit at the same time.

Follow the FishWise link for more information.



Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) operates a global seafood certification program under which wild capture fisheries can become certified as sustainable based on a rigorous scientific methodology and independent assessment.  The MSC does not certify aquaculture operations.  Seafood products from certified fisheries that have been certified to the MSC standard for sustainable fisheries and come from companies that possess MSC Chain of Custody certification for traceability may carry an MSC ecolabel, the most recognized and credible seafood ecolabel in the world.

Follow the Marine Stewardship Council link for more info.


New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium works with some of the world’s largest seafood retailers and suppliers to encourage the sustainable development of farmed and wild-caught seafood resources. The Aquarium advises these companies on issues regarding environmentally responsible seafood and facilitates work with fishermen and fish farmers to make proactive changes in their practices to favor our aquatic environments.

For more information visit the New England Aquarium page.




Healthy Choices, Healthy Oceans
SeaChoice, Canada’s most comprehensive sustainable seafood program, is about solutions for healthy oceans. Five internationally respected Canadian conservation organizations—Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Center, Living Oceans Society and Sierra Club British Columbia—formed SeaChoice to help Canadians take an active role in supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture at all levels of the seafood supply chain.

Working in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s acclaimed Seafood Watch program, SeaChoice undertakes science-based seafood assessments, provides informative resources for consumers, and supports businesses through collaborative partnerships.

SeaChoice Sustainable Seafood Cards:
Canadian Seafood Guide     Canadian Sushi Guide

Visit the SeaChoice website for more information.

Note: Sea Choice is 1 of the 3 sustainability standards used on Chefs-Resources to help chefs evaluate their seafood purchasing decisions. Check-out the Chefs-Resources fish profiles for more info.

Seafood Watch logo

Seafood Watch® Program by Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Seafood Watch Program is the most recognized seafood sustainability program.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium developed the Seafood Watch program to research and evaluate wild-caught and farmed seafood. The result is comprehensive seafood sustainability recommendations for the major seafood species consumed in the United States. The Seafood Watch program helps sustain wild, diverse and healthy ocean ecosystems that will exist long into the future.

The program does this by encouraging consumers and businesses to purchase seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that don’t harm the environment. Seafood Watch recommendations are science-based, peer reviewed, and use ecosystem-based criteria including the fishery, habitat, species, management, and a host of other factors that affect each species. In this way, Seafood Watch offers a complete vision of sustainability. When there is scientific uncertainty, they err on the side of conservation.

Seafood Watch Guides (they update this info every six months):
Guides for: National Guide, Sushi, Hawaii, West Coast, Southwest, Central, Northeast, Southeast
English and Spanish: Seafood Watch Consumer Guides

For more information go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website.

Note: Seafood Watch is 1 of the 3 sustainability standards used on Chefs-Resources to help chefs evaluate their seafood purchasing decisions. Check-out the Chefs-Resources fish profiles for more info.


Ocean Wise logo

Ocean Wise® Program by Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers across Canada to ensure they have the most current scientific information regarding sustainable seafood and to help them make ocean-friendly buying decisions.

With close to 700 Ocean Wise partners across Canada, Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice.

Ocean Wise is an active member of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions. The Conservation Alliance is a collaborative effort between North American nonprofit conservation organizations that connects seafood expertise to businesses with the goal of seafood sustainability.

Ocean Wise Seafood Recommendations (updated regularly): Ocean Wise Seafood Recommendations

Ocean Wise also offers a sustainable seafood training course.

To learn more about Ocean Wise and their partners please visit the Ocean Wise website.

Note: Ocean Wise is 1 of the 3 sustainability standards used on Chefs-Resources to help chefs evaluate their seafood purchasing decisions. Check-out the Chefs-Resources fish profiles for more info.


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