Whether we’re aware of it or not, our choices at the grocery store can affect the health of the world’s oceans and marine life. Poor fishing practices do serious damage by depleting fish populations, destroying marine habitats and unleashing water pollution. In fact, overfishing and mismanagement have already compromised the populations of many consumer favorites like orange roughy and Chilean sea bass. For seafood lovers, this means it’s wise to put purchase dollars toward seafood that’s well-managed and minimally damaging to the environment.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, our choices at the grocery store can affect the health of the world’s oceans and marine life. Poor fishing practices do serious damage by depleting fish populations, destroying marine habitats and unleashing water pollution. In fact, overfishing and mismanagement have already compromised the populations of many consumer favorites like orange roughy and Chilean sea bass. For seafood lovers, this means it’s wise to put purchase dollars toward seafood that’s well-managed and minimally damaging to the environment.


The Environmental Defense Fund’s website provides a comprehensive and easy-to-use guide to selections from the seafood case, available as a mobile app that works on any web-enabled device in case you’re stymied at the store http://apps.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=15890


Enjoy these:


Wild Alaskan salmon: Since it’s a widely acknowledged superfood, you might be worried that this species is overfished. On the contrary, salmon are abundant in Alaska thanks to good management and habitat maintenance. The vast majority of these fish are caught using methods that minimize environmental damage, and they’re relatively low in contaminants.


Pink shrimp: A small, tasty shrimp found from California to Alaska, pink shrimp have been effectively managed to prevent overfishing and over competition. Most of them come from Oregon, where careful capture techniques ensure minimal accidental catch of other animal species, also called bycatch.


Tilapia from the U.S.: Unlike tilapia sourced from other parts of the world, those in the U.S. are raised in closed tank systems. Closed tanks not only minimize pollution but also prevent tilapia escapes — an important consideration because tilapia is an aggressive species that could wreak havoc on native fish populations.


Steer clear of these:


Atlantic bluefin tuna: According to the EDF, the world’s largest tuna species is at “a critical level.” Poor management and the potential for a lot of bycatch — including sea turtles and sea birds — make this fish an unwise choice from an environmental standpoint. The EDF warns that bluefins could someday be extinct if overfishing continues, and suggests substituting pole-caught yellowfin tuna.


Atlantic cod: Atlantic cod populations are in distress in both the U.S. and Canada after decades of overfishing. While there are some signs of recovery, the main fishing method here is bottom trawling, which causes substantial damage to ocean floor habitats. Even more worrying, bycatch concerns extend to dolphins and whales.


Chinese white shrimp: Farming methods that involve destroying coastal wetlands and mangrove forests make these a no-no — at least until the situation improves. Bottom trawling, large amounts of bycatch, and questionable levels of contaminates should keep these off the menu.