1. Chilean Seabass
Though no doubt a tasty treat, this fish has become too well liked for its own good. Due to high demand, Seabass is widely overfished with illegal and unregulated practices and is an unfortunate victim of bycatch.
Best choice to make: Pass on this beauty.
Interesting facts: Not really a bass. Not always caught in Chilean waters.
2. Atlantic Halibut
We all love us some fish and chips but Atlantic Halibut is paying a heavy price.
This North Atlantic Ocean dweller is the largest of the flat fish species, can reach a length of 9 feet, can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and can live up to 50 years.
Because it’s a slow growing fish it reaches sexual maturity at 10 to 14 years old so it’s particularly susceptible to overfishing as it does get the chance to reproduce.
Though Atlantic halibut are normally caught with hooks-and-lines, they’re often caught as bycatch in bottom trawl fisheries. For this reason the IUCN classifies them as endangered and their declining numbers are not expected to rise in the near future.
This has prompted the United States to ban Atlantic halibut fishing in its coastal waters.
Best thing to do: Avoid. But if you must, go for Pacific wild-caught (including Alaskan halibut and Dover Sole).
A sushi night favourite, you may be ordering a little more than you bargained for when you request Unagi.
Demand for this freshwater dweller is putting heavy pressure on our environment and wild eel populations around the world are in disturbing decline; eels caught and raised for market don’t have a chance to reproduce (they reach sexual maturity anywhere from 6 to 30 years of age).
Additionally, eel farms are often located in coastal wetlands and use open tank systems that flush waste into the surrounding waters. This causes pollution and threatens local ecosystems.
What’s more, to raise one ton of this carnivorous fish for market, you need 2.5 tons of wild fish. You do the math.
Best choice: Pass on the unagi and order sweet potato roll instead.
Poor tuna has seen better days. The demand for Bluefin and the enormous prices it can fetch at the market has led to extreme overfishing and the outcome is dire. These large, fast, predatory fish can grow to a length of about 10 feet, can weigh more than 1400 pounds and live up to an estimated 20 years.
WWF has named blue fin tuna one of the sixth most threatened species in the world. Experts agree that this slow maturing fish will eventually become extinct.
What you can do: Pass on this fast beast of the ocean so that you can see it when you’re snorkeling.
There are many species of Salmon, most are anadromous, which means they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to spawn. Most of the salmon we eat today, however, come from unsustainable farming practices.
It’s easy to think that buying farmed seafood is a great way to protect the fast-depleting wildlife in our oceans, but open net-cage salmon farming is actually extremely harmful to our environment.
Waste, chemicals, disease and parasites from farming pass directly through mesh nets, polluting the surrounding water and spreading to wild fish and other wildlife can get entangled in the nets and die.
Better option: Go for Alaskan salmon because those fisheries are sustainable by law.
Canada’s was once world famous for its abundance of cod. Hundreds of millions of tons of the fish was harvested from the Atlantic for decades. Then, overfishing led to its collapse in the 1990’s.
A deep-water fish, Atlantic Cod lives on the seafloor at 1,300 feet or more. The most popular method for catching cod is with bottom trawl gear. Trawling involves dragging large nets across the seafloor, which damages marine habitats and produces bycatch.
What to look for: Cod caught in Alaska, Iceland and the northeast Arctic are more abundant and are being fished sustainably using hook-and-line gear, which lowers the amount of bycatch and habitat damage.
It is estimated that North Americans consume more than one billion pounds of shrimp every year. Shrimp can be found on almost every menu, but when you order it at a restaurant be aware of all the bycatch you’re getting with it.
Shrimp trawling produces the highest amounts of bycatch, with a worldwide average of 5.7:1, which means that for every kg of shrimp caught, there are 5.7kg of bycatch that comes with it. This often dead or dying bycatch gets thrown back into the ocean. Dolphins, porpoises and whales are seriously affected by shrimp trawl nets in particular.
Better practice: Recommended by SeaChoice, silvofisheries combine shrimp farming and mangrove forestry. The strict criteria includes a limited number of shrimp per pond and a ban on supplemental feed and chemicals.