Seafood Watch Updates and Adds New Standards for Assessment Process

Oct 30, 2015

Seafood Watch

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® announces the completion of a recent review of the standards that serve as the basis of its assessment process. The year-long undertaking culminates with significant updates to the program’s fisheries and aquaculture standards, and the ongoing development of two new standards focused on salmonid fisheries and greenhouse gases. Full details about the rigorous process, which included consultation with six distinct science work groups and final approval by a multi-stakeholder group, and resulting changes are available on the Seafood Watch website.

Seafood Watch assesses the sustainability of fisheries and fish farms by compiling relevant science-based information and evaluating that information against its published standards. The program revises its standards every four to five years to ensure they reflect the most up-to-date scientific thinking on sustainable seafood production.

The latest review process resulted in some revisions to Seafood Watch standards for fisheries and aquaculture operations; notably:


Wild Fisheries Standard

-Better accounts for the important role that forage fishes play in ecosystems

-Offers improved scoring guidance for target and bycatch species when data is lacking

-Fisheries must now be rated green for stock status or management on top of the existing requirements in order to be rated as a Seafood Watch “Best Choice”


Aquaculture Standard

-More emphasis is placed on the management of cumulative impacts across all activities that affect environments in the vicinity of the aquaculture operations being assessed

-Poor data quality or poor data availability can now contribute to an “Avoid” recommendation

-Provides more explicit guidance on scoring options where impacts are unknown or illegal activities are occurring


In addition to the updates of existing Seafood Watch standards, two new standards are in development with completion anticipated in late 2016 or early 2017:

-A salmonid fisheries standard that will address specific concerns associated with salmon hatchery production

-A greenhouse gas standard that will account for the carbon footprint of seafood production, from the boat or farm to the dock or farm gate

Seafood Watch scientific reports released after January 1, 2016 will incorporate the new fisheries and aquaculture standards. The salmonid fisheries and greenhouse gas standards will be completed following further testing and input from stakeholders.

For more information, visit the Seafood Watch website:

The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean. The Seafood Watch program empowers individuals and businesses to make choices for a healthy ocean.


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The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean.