Wild-caught (as opposed to farmed) seafood has been given color-coded, science-based sustainability ratings for by the Blue Ocean Institute in partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. The color codes parallel the Go, Wait and Stop colors of traffic lights.

  • A green or “best choice” rating indicates that a species is relatively abundant and is caught in environmentally-friendly ways.
  • A yellow or “good alternative” rating means that some concerns exist with the species’ status or catch methods.
  • Red or “avoid” ratings mean that currently the species is suffering from overfishing, or that current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats. The impact can either diminish a threatened (dwindling) species or harm the environment through bottom-trawling and other practices. Examples include Chilean sea bass, red snapper, swordfish and yellowfin tuna.

See also Marine Stewardship Council, which has its own rating system.

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