Sustainable Seafood Series Part 3: Seafood Certifications • Seafood Nutrition Partnership

This week, we’re going to dive into seafood certifications. (ICYMI: you can read part one here and part two here of our month-long series on sustainable seafood).

There are a number of seafood certifications out there so we’re here to tell you what they mean and what to look for during your next trip to the store. We are highlighting what you, the individual customer, may visibly see at the supermarket or restaurant.

  • For wild seafood, these certifications may assess that the seafood is caught from fisheries that are at sustainable biological levels to prevent over-fishing, the catch method has low risk of harming other sea life, ensure fair labor practices, and/or track seafood from source to store/restaurant.
  • For farmed seafood, these certifications may assess the feed fed to the fish is high quality and sustainable, the growing conditions keep the fish healthy naturally, ensure fair labor practices, and/or track seafood from source to store/restaurant.

It’s important to note that all major retailers have a sustainability statement in place, most post it on their website, offering information about how they source seafood. So, do your research before you go to the store. Once you’re at the store, ask your fishmonger any sustainability questions you have. They are there to be a resource for you and make your shopping experience easier!

  • Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) is an international certification program for farmed fish and shellfish, and it is based on achievable, science-based and continuously-improved standards. BAP standards cover the entire aquaculture supply chain and assure healthful foods produced through environmentally and socially responsible means. BAP certification is based on independent audits that evaluate compliance with the BAP standards developed by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.
  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is an independent, international non-profit organization that manages a certification and labeling program for responsible farmed fish and shellfish.
  • Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization that certifies wild seafood, and recognizes and rewards efforts to protect oceans and safeguard seafood supplies for the future. The MSC Blue Label is only applied to wild fish or seafood from fisheries certified to the MSC standard, a scientific measure of sustainable fishing.
  • Fair Trade Seafood is a new certification rolling out that assesses fair wages, safe working conditions, and environmental protection for the fishermen and farmers. It may include additional benefits such as providing education, healthcare, and clean water for the local community where the seafood is from.
  • NOAA Fisheries manages the United States fisheries within 200 miles from our coastlines under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), creating the best managed fisheries in the world. While not a certification, you will see seafood labeled as “from the US”. NOAA’s website has good information and resources for consumers to learn about different species – both wild and farmed.
  • Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium provides recommendations on seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that have less impact on the environment. While not a certification, signs may be placed in the store or restaurant.

There are many organizations working on sustainable and responsible seafood behind the scenes. To learn more see here for a list of SNP’s partner organizations.

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