Seafood Watch Summary

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program is a globally respected source of science-based recommendations for sustainable seafood from wild-caught and farmed sources. The recommendations are developed through a process driven by the program’s vision of sustainable seafood: seafood from sources that can maintain or increase production without jeopardizing the structure and function of affected ecosystems. Based on rigorous criteria, assessments indicate which seafood sold on the North American market are a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative,” and which ones to “Avoid.” 

Seafood Watch recommendations empower consumers and businesses to make choices for a healthy ocean, helping support diverse marine ecosystems for the future. The program also raises awareness through its printable guides, website, mobile app, and partnerships with businesses, zoos, aquariums, culinary leaders and conservation organizations. 

Increasingly, Seafood Watch is working on a global scale – taking a markets-based approach that harnesses the purchasing power of businesses large and small in order to shift fishing and aquaculture practices around the world in more sustainable directions. 

Basic Facts & Overview 

  • Seafood Watch employs more than 20 staff and enlists more than 50 contractors and reviewers who help produce approximately 75 new and updated recommendation reports annually, covering hundreds of wild-caught and farmed seafood species.
  • Seafood Watch has produced approximately 2,000 seafood recommendations since 1999.
  • Seafood Watch has distributed more than 56 million Seafood Watch consumer guides since 1999.
  • The free Seafood Watch App (available for iOS and Android) has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times.
  • More than 260 restaurants (and growing) and other businesses are part of our business program, committing to not serve “Avoid” items, and to educate customers and colleagues about seafood sustainability.
  • 1,000 businesses with more than 100,000 locations across North America reference Seafood Watch science to inform their purchasing decisions.
  • More than 160 zoos, aquariums, science museums, nature centers and other non-profits partner with Seafood Watch to promote sustainable seafood messaging.

History 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program started in 1999, as an outgrowth of a successful special exhibition, “Fishing for Solutions.” After learning many visitors were inspired by the exhibit, the Aquarium started the program to develop tools that could help people change their seafood buying habits. 

Seafood Watch has grown to be one of the most recognized and respected sources of science-based information for consumers, chefs and business professionals who want to make seafood choices that support a healthy ocean and healthy fishing communities. 

Key Program Elements

  • Developing science-based, peer-reviewed seafood recommendations that reflect a vision of an ocean capable of supporting healthy ecosystems and producing seafood to meet human needs for generations to come.
  • Educating the public by raising consumer awareness about sustainable seafood issues and encouraging people to ask for sustainable seafood whenever they shop for seafood.
  • Working with leading U.S. seafood buyers, distributors, retailers, food service and chefs to develop and execute sustainable seafood commitments that promote more sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and create incentives for less sustainable ones to improve.
  • Cultivating a network of zoos, aquariums, science museums, nature centers and other non-profit conservation partners to extend the geographic reach of the Seafood Watch program.
  • Providing information and tools that help businesses and individuals assess the seafood they buy.

Program expert available for interviews

Media Contact 

For more information or to set up an interview with a Seafood Watch staff member, please contact Emerson Brown, Seafood Watch Communications - Associate Manager, Public Relations: ebrown@mbayaq.org, 831-647-6856.