Seafood in a New Light: The Truth About Wild and Farmed Fish
It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of seafood: it’s a delicious and, most importantly, sustainable source of protein. Not to mention, producing seafood requires dramatically less energy than other animals. For example, it only takes one pound of feed to create one pound of fish, but for meat and poultry it can require up to nine times as much feed. Supporting sustainable seafood choices is a win-win for us all.
While not all fish are created equal when it comes to sustainability (some require too much feed, some are endangered, etc.), one thing is for sure: avoiding a certain fish has nothing to do with whether it was farmed or wild-caught, despite the misinformation floating around out there about fish farming, or aquaculture. The truth is that both wild and farmed fish are equally crucial to a sustainable seafood system. When done the right way, aquaculture allows us to meet the growing global demand for seafood—300 billion pounds, at last count—without depleting wild fish populations, such as what we’ve seen with the nearly 50% decline in marine life populations in the past 40 years.
We know it’s not easy to figure out how to make informed decisions when choosing seafood, especially if it’s not as simple as picking wild vs. farmed. For starters, when it comes to wild fish, it’s best to go for fish that have been caught using methods that don’t disturb natural habitats and prioritize the long-term health of the ocean, and to steer clear of endangered species, like Atlantic cod (we only source wild Pacific cod, which is both tasty and plentiful).
And what exactly is the right way to farm fish? Firstly, the farm should use closely-regulated practices that maintain or improve the health of the environment. Low-density pens that support the well-being of the fish, allowing them ample space to swim around, are one responsible option. Lastly, the fish should be fed as efficiently as possible, which means choosing species that can grow and thrive on a smaller amount of food.
These are just a few points to consider, but we understand this is a complex issue with a lot to keep track of. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, one of the world’s most well-respected guides to sustainable seafood. If you’d like to learn more about what makes sustainable wild-caught seafood or aquaculture, visit the Seafood Watch website. We work with Seafood Watch to ensure that all our seafood is sustainably-sourced, but when you’re at a restaurant or your local market, this printable pocket guide by Seafood Watch is a great resource to keep on hand.
In addition to sustainable seafood recommendations, the official Seafood Watch page has tons of great info on aquaculture and wild fisheries.
Learn more about our partnership with Seafood Watch here.
Dive deeper with author and seafood expert Paul Greenberg in his best-selling book, Four Fish.