Seafood Watch has upgraded 21 species from ‘avoid’ to ‘best choice’ or ‘good alternative,’ including crab, lobster, Pacific cod, grouper and several rockfish species.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation announced on Tuesday a dramatic turnaround for West Coast fisheries, after just 14 years of federal fishery management to restore these economically important fisheries in California, Oregon and Washington.

The assessment of a new science report reveals that all groundfish caught there are rated either a “Good Alternative” or “Best Choice”. This includes a host of rockfish species – sometimes offered by restaurants and markets as “snapper” – and myriad flatfishes, including Dover sole, petrale sole, starry flounder and sand dabs.

“This is one of the great success stories about ecological and economic recovery of a commercially important fishery,” said Margaret Spring, vice president of conservation and science for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “A huge part of the turnaround is reliance on science-based conservation and management practices that Congress endorsed in its 2006 update of U.S. fishery law.”

In June, the global Marine Stewardship Council certified 13 of the trawl-caught groundfish species as coming from a sustainable and well-managed fishery.

“Not long ago many of these species were in collapse,” said Tim Fitzgerald, who manages the sustainable seafood program for the Environmental Defense Fund – one of the organizations that worked with fishermen and fisheries managers on the turnaround. “Thanks to smarter fishing regulations and fishermen’s commitment to conservation, consumers and seafood businesses can now add West Coast groundfish to their list of sustainable choices.”

Frank Lockhart, who led the West Coast groundfish recovery effort for NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries division, pointed out, “Not only has it reduced impacts on the species we need to protect, but it has allowed fishermen increased flexibility to fish more effectively for the species they want – benefiting industry, fishing communities and seafood consumers.”

(READ the report from The Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation)

Leave a Reply