GreenYour Fish and Seafood
Choose locally caught fish
Choosing sustainable, locally caught fish helps minimize the environmental impact of transporting and storing, and because of local advisories, you can be better informed of its potential harmful effects, such as mercury content.
How to buy locally caught fish
- Do some research and find a local, sustainable fishery. Websites like the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, Seafood Choices Alliance, and Blue Ocean Institute's Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood are useful with information on species and potential mercury hazards. Avoid purchasing local species that are threatened or poorly managed. See External links for more information on your area.
- Contact your state's Department of Natural Resources, and find out what species (in a particular waterway/coastal area) are managed in a sustainable way. Pay attention to local advisories on how much fish per month it is safe to eat.
- Find restaurants, markets, retailers, and local fishermen at the docks that have locally caught fish available. Restaurants are a good place to start looking, as owners may have an interest in the local economy and local fishery conditions. Local fishermen are another good source.
- Keep restaurants and markets honest by asking, "Which of your selections is locally caught?"
Choosing locally caught fish helps you go green because...
- Ecosystems in local bodies of water will benefit from sustainably managed fish populations and continued biodiversity.
- Your local fishermen do not have to transport seafood long distances, saving on greenhouse-gas emissions and refrigeration costs.
- It benefits the local economy, giving the community an interest in preserving and protecting their waterways.
Because state and regional resources can give you facts about local fish populations, locally-caught seafood is more transparent than imported seafood. For instance, regulations such as bycatch and trawling reduction can be undermined by imported seafood. Local advisories also help consumers with information on mercury and other persistent organic pollutants in local waterways and fish populations.
People take in mercury and other chemicals from eating fish not from drinking local water. Since mercury is bio-accumulated in fish, with higher levels in older and larger fish, it can harm humans as a nervous system toxin, especially having an effect on unborn babies and infants. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests checking local advisories about the safety of locally-caught fish, and that if no such advice is available, to only eat up to 6 ounces per week of fish caught from local waters, without consuming any other fish during that week. Those people who are most at risk, such as pregnant women, infants and children should be especially careful when eating locally-caught fish.
Fishery Council sites by region
- South Atlantic
- New England
- Gulf Region
- North Pacific
- Western Pacific
- Great Lakes Information Network Fisheries page
- Great Lakes Fisheries Commission.
- Eat Low Carbon Use this fun interactive tool to find out how your diet's contributing to climate change.
- South Carolina Aquarium on Charleston Harbor
- NOAA Office of Sustainable Fisheries
- Marine Stewardship Council Labeling and certification of sustainable seafood sources.
- South Carolina Aquarium on Charleston Harbor - Sustainable Seafood Initiative
- Cornell Cooperative Extension - Handling Locally Caught Fish
- Oceana.org Vitals Report - Executive Summary
- US Environmental Protection Agency - What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish
- International Food Information Council - Fish & Your Health