Seafood Watch was developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to research and evaluate wild-caught and farmed seafood. The result is comprehensive seafood sustainability recommendations for the major seafood species consumed in the United States. Seafood Watch defines sustainable seafood as from sources, whether fish or farmed, that can maintain or increase production into the long-term without jeopardizing the structure or function of affected ecosystems. Seafood Watch's mission is to empower consumers and businesses to make choices for healthy oceans. The goal is to shift the buying habits of consumers and businesses to support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture operations. Seafood Watch is committed to: providing seafood recommendations and background information to enable consumers and businesses to make more environmentally sound decisions; conduct outreach and marketing to generate awareness that will motivate consumers and business to support sustainable sources of seafood; and, conduct scientifically rigorous analyses and make these analyses accessible to the public or other seafood users groups.
Seafood Watch defines sustainable seafood as seafood from sources, whether fished or farmed, that can maintain or increase production without jeopardizing the structure and function of affected ecosystems. In keeping with this definition, Seafood Watch refers to the following guiding principles to illustrate the qualities that fisheries and aquaculture operations must possess to be considered sustainable. These objectives inform the performance criteria and scoring methodology used to assess fisheries and aquaculture operations.
Fisheries Guiding Principles
Sustainable wild capture fisheries:
Aquaculture Guiding Principles
Sustainable aquaculture farms and collective industries:
1. Impacts on the Species Under Assessment1.1 Abundance1.2 Fishing Mortality2. Impacts on Other Capture Species2.1 Abundance2.2 Fishing Mortality2.3 Modifying Factor: Discards and Bait Use
3. Management Effectiveness3.1 Management Strategy and Implementation3.2 Bycatch Strategy3.3 Scientific Research and Monitoring3.4 Enforcement of Management Regulations3.5 Stakeholder Inclusion
4. Impacts on the Habitat and Ecosystem4.1 Physical Impact of Fishing Gear on the Habitat/Substrate4.2 Modifying Factor: Mitigation of Gear Impacts4.3 Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management
1. Data2. Effluent2.1 Waste discharged per ton of fish2.2 Management of farm-level and cumulative impacts
3. Habitat3.1 Habitat conversion and function3.2 Farm siting regulation and management
4. Chemical Use
5. Feed5.1 Wild fish use5.2 Net protein gain or loss5.3 Feed footprint6. Escapes6.1 Escape Risk Score7. Disease, Pathogen and Parasite Interaction8X. Source of Stock - Independence from Wild Fish Stocks9X. Predator and Wildlife Mortalities10X. Escape of Secondary Species
Final Score for Wild Fisheries = geometric mean of the four scores (Criterion 1-4).Final Score for Aquaculture = geometric mean of the eight scores (Criterion 1-8).
Because effective management is an essential component of sustainable fisheries, Seafood Watch issues an Avoid recommendation for any fishery scoring Red for Management (Criterion 3).
The following certifications have been benchmarked against the Seafood Watch criteria for farmed and wild seafood as equivalent to at least a Seafood Watch 'Good Alternative' recommendation.
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