Green Choices: Seafood Buyer’s Guide
Which labels to look for at the fish counter.
You may have decided to buy wild vs. farmed salmon but finding other sustainable seafood isn’t an easy task. At present the USDA has no organic certification program for seafood (an organic seafood label may mean nothing or that the fish was certified “organic” overseas). For sound environmental information, go the Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch websites. At the fish counter, look for the labels listed below.
Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)
This label is for farmed shrimp, catfish and tilapia, raised without antibiotics and in conditions that exceed local environmental regulations. Plants that process the fish employ safe-packaging practices to reduce risk of foodborne illnesses.
Eco-benefits: Historically, shrimp, catfish and tilapia farming have caused considerable environmental damage to the biodiversity of wetlands by disturbing sediment, impacting mangroves where wild fish spawn or, in the case of shrimp, scraping the bottoms through drag netting. Only farms prohibiting practices that harm natural habitats are eligible for the label.
Is it regulated? Yes. Site inspections and audits implemented by the nonprofit Aquaculture Certification Council ensure that farms and processing plants meet environmental and safety standards.
Keep in mind: The label applies only to farmed—not wild—shrimp and fish.