Sustainable Seafood 101

What is sustainable seafood?

Wild-caught seafood is animals harvested from the ocean that provide food, nutrition (especially protein and micronutirents), livelihood, and recreation to humans. These harvests can be sustainable, where populations are taken at a rate and quantity that allows them to naturally replenish and renew; or unsustainable when humans take more than can naturally be replaced. Eating sustainable seafood ensures that you and others can enjoy that same meal in the future.

Though it sounds simple, fisheries are among the most complex natural resources on the planet. In Seafood 101, we break every aspect of fisheries down to give you a full understanding of how science, policy, and human interests interact to determine sustainable vs unsustainable seafood.

We offer a global perspective on food and sustainability, discuss the role that seafood plays, then dig into everything from the science behind seafood sustainability to the systems in place that regulate and monitor fisheries.

In Seafood 101, we hope to teach you more than just the basics of sustainable fisheries. Using a human-centered approach, we present different perspectives on fisheries, natural resources, and conservation.

Fish provide hundreds of millions of people with livelihoods, billions with their primary source of protein, and they are one of the least environmentally impactful foods people can eat. Not all fisheries are great, however. Poor fisheries management that leads to overexploitation continues to be a problem in several parts of the world. While many claim this is the result of indifference and greed, we believe that poor management and overfishing is fundamentally tied to global drivers of poverty that strip developing countries of the capacity needed to manage their fisheries. Our ideas about conservation tend not to focus on specific issues, but instead take a holistic approach to sustainability. We put fisheries in the context of global food and dietary impacts; we prioritize carbon impacts, namely ocean acidification and climate change as the most pressing oceanic and environmental issues on the planet; we discuss the relationship between fisheries and poverty, class, and justice that matter for a better future.

Below is a table of contents. Click on any heading to skip ahead or click through each post—the guide was written to read like a lesson that builds on each previous installment (start at What does the World Eat and work down).