The Seafood Watch standards consist of guiding principles, science-based criteria and a robust scoring methodology. We regularly update them with the help of fisheries and aquaculture experts to ensure they incorporate the latest science and understanding of sustainability. They play a critical role in helping us create an assessment of a fishery or aquaculture operation, which in turn shapes our seafood recommendations.

Alaska king crab
Alaskan king crab

How Do Standards Help with Developing Seafood Watch Recommendations?

Seafood Watch has a rigorous method for developing its recommendations. Our scientists compile relevant science-based information by researching government reports, journal articles and white papers. They also contact fishery and fish farm experts. After a thorough review of all the available data and information, we apply our sustainability standards to those findings to develop an in-depth Seafood Watch assessment. All of our assessments are reviewed by experts from academia, government and the seafood industry and are available on our website. We base our seafood recommendations on these assessments.

Developing Seafood Watch Recommendations (PDF)

About Our Standards

Our 2016 standards for fisheries and aquaculture were approved by our Multi‑Stakeholder Group on September 30, 2015. Assessments initiated after January 1, 2016 are against these new standards.

We periodically revise our standards to ensure we take into account new developments, their impacts and what can be done to mitigate those impacts.

Learn more about the standards revision process

Seafood Watch Standard for Fisheries

Seafood Watch Standard for Aquaculture



Our Assessment Process

Our assessments are conducted using a rigorous, science-based process to ensure recommendations are based on the most relevant, up-to-date publicly available data and information. The entire process, including writing, internal reviews and external reviews, is conducted using our Seafood Watch Assessment Tool.

Learn more about the Seafood Watch Assessment Tool

External Assessment Program

The External Assessment Program (EAP) enables third parties to utilize the Seafood Watch standards, research process and protocols, and approved trained contractors to assess fisheries or aquaculture operations of interest that have not, and will not, be assessed by Seafood Watch.

Seafood Watch External Assessment Program (PDF)

Recognizing Eco-Certifications

We strongly support the concept of independent eco-certification programs for seafood. In 2012, we completed a comprehensive study of 10 eco-certification programs to determine if any had standards equivalent to our own sustainability criteria.

Learn more about eco-certifications