A fishing vessel returns to Moss Landing Harbor in Monterey Bay.


Maintaining the Global Standard for Seafood Sustainability

To assess the seafood on the U.S. market, our Seafood Watch program depends on robust, transparent and timely data from fishing and aquaculture operations around the world. We've grown our global capacity through a network of analysts and organizations in Latin America, Europe, China, Japan and Southeast Asia. Here are four ways we stay connected:

Keeping up with the latest knowledge

Our understanding of fishing and aquaculture impacts, and how to mitigate them, is constantly evolving. We rely on a multi-stakeholder group—key individuals from the seafood industry, academia, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and independent experts—for advice as we update our science-based standards of seafood sustainability.

A leader in the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions

The Alliance connects the leading conservation groups driving improvement throughout the global seafood supply chain. Seafood Watch serves on the Alliance's advisory board, and our recommendations inform its advice for businesses.

Harmonizing with other seafood ratings organizations

The Global Seafood Ratings Alliance is a coalition of the world's leading seafood ratings programs. Alliance members on six continents leverage business-to-business relationships, increase public outreach, keep a comprehensive database of ratings and coordinate efforts around priority species.

Expanding the definition of seafood sustainability to include human rights

The seafood industry faces more than environmental challenges—it's also grappling with serious social concerns such as human trafficking, forced labor, unfair wages and unsafe working conditions.

Seafood Watch supported a Conservation International initiative to help address these concerns. After a year-long collaboration, the initiative led to a meeting of key seafood and human rights NGOs at the Aquarium.

Their discussions of human trafficking, forced labor, fair wages, working conditions and basic human rights cemented a new vision of social responsibility for the seafood sector. The resulting "Monterey Framework" establishes an agenda to change current practices in ways that benefit both workers and the environment.

Seafood Watch also began work with Liberty Asia and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership to develop the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool—a business tool that rates the likelihood that human trafficking, forced labor and hazardous child labor are occurring on fishing boats in a specific fishery. The tool is available at SeafoodSlaveryRisk.org.

Building Demand for Sustainable Seafood

Seafood Watch's assessments of seafood products, and the resulting color-coded ratings, were originally designed to drive business and consumer demand for sustainable seafood in North America. Today, our assessments underpin the global movement toward sustainable seafood. Producers use Seafood Watch assessments to improve their practices, and governments around the world use them to inform their management of seafood resources.

Seafood Watch provides easy-to-use seafood recommendations that are supported by science-based assessments, which inform business purchases and government policy.

Seafood Watch currently provides more than 1,200 total recommendations, representing more than 360 seafood species caught and farmed in different ways and locations.

Since Seafood Watch launched in 1999, we've assessed 85 percent of the seafood available on the U.S. market by volume.

In 2017, we completed 159 ratings, including updates for high-volume products such as salmon, shrimp and tuna, as well as new ratings for species including blacktail and blue-striped snapper.

Seafood Watch National Consumer Guide

Best Choices: Buy first; they're well managed and caught or farmed in ways that cause little harm to habitats or other wildlife. Best Choice items set the bar for current best practice in seafood production.

Good Alternatives: Buy, but be aware there are concerns with how they're caught or farmed Good Alternative items provide an opportunity for businesses to engage with seafood producers to improve their environmental performance.

Avoid: Don't buy; they're overfished, or caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment. Businesses are using their purchasing power—and governments are using policy and regulation—to improve red-rated fisheries and farms.

Eco-Labels: Look on the Seafood Watch app or website for recommended eco-labels. These labels identify seafood items that are equivalent to our Good Alternative or Best Choice ratings.

Read more Global Fisheries & Aquaculture stories

Conservation & Science Report 2017 (PDF)

  • Credits
  • © Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation