"Sustainable seafood" is a green-living catch-phrase that's easy to gloss over without much thought-- until you're looking at a menu or standing at a fish counter wondering what you're supposed to choose, and why. "Our everyday decisions about seafood have an impact on our oceans," says Heather Tausig, director of conservation for the New England Aquarium.
If we continue to fish and consume fish the way we do now, all species of edible seafood may be wiped out by 2048.
Does this mean you should have a seafood-free summer? Thankfully, no. If you are a conscientious consumer, "eating seafood can do less environmental damage than eating meat, poultry, or pork," Tausig says. Look for seafood that has been caught or farmed without damaging habitats, polluting, or killing by catch (sea turtles and other creatures-- including endangered species-- caught in fishing nets), as well as species that haven't been overfished.
Here are a few ways to avoid consuming anything fishy:
Ask questions. "At fish counters and restaurants, ask where the fish is from and how it was caught," Tausig says.
"The more information they have, the more you know they are paying attention." If they don't know, or if the fish isn't ocean-friendly, skip it.
Get a list of ocean-friendly seafood choices.Check out the Aquarium website (neaq.org), which offers changes often, so you need a current list.) You can sample new species from the list at restaurants or at the aquarium's Celebrate Seafood dinners.
If you forget the list at home, use the Blue Ocean Institute's FishPhone (fishphone.org). Text the word FISH (and the name of the fish in question) to 30644, and they'll let you know whether it's eco-friendly and, if not, what a good alternative might be.
Christie Matheson is the author of "Green Chic: Saving the Earth in Style." Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.