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Seafood Recommendations


Did you know?

Not all seafood is created equal.  Much of the fish available today in the United States is imported, frequently from places where health, safety and environmental standards for growing or catching fish are weak or non-existent.  Less than 2% of seafood imports to the US are inspected for contamination.  Also, many popular wild fish have been managed poorly and are depleted, are caught using gear that can hurt habitat and other wildlife, and/or contain substances like mercury or PCB's that can cause serious health problems.  These concerns can make choosing healthful and sustainable fish challenging.

Fortunately, there are still good domestic seafood options.  These charts provide recommendations for cleaner, greener, safer choices for popular fish nationwide. 

Questions to Ask About Your Seafood:

Where is it from?  Domestic or imported - choose domestic.

Is it caught or farmed locally?  Choose local foods over those shipped from far away.

Is it farmed or wild?  Choose wild, unless otherwise stated on this card.

How is it caught?  Ask if the method has high bycatch or habitat damage - favor fish caught by hook and line, hand line, troll, jig and spear gun.

How is it farmed?  Choose seafood that has been farmed in the US, especially in low or no output, re-circulating systems.  Tilapia, shrimp, hybrid striped bass and arctic char are examples of fish that are or are soon to be farmed this way in the US.

Is it associated with any contaminants?  Mercury, PCB's, antibiotics, etc.

Tip:  Try a variety of seafood.  This reduces your exposure to possible contaminants and helps to lower pressure on wild fish that have become over-popular choices.

How to use this chart:

Look for the type of seafood you like in the left column ("If you like..."), and find cleaner, greener, safer recommendations in the right column ("Choose...").  Sometimes the better choice is just a more specific type of fish that you may already like.  Other times, we suggest a substitution.


Bonito, shark, swordfish or tuna
US wild pole- or troll-caught mahi-mahi or US Pacific sablefish/black cod

US farmed catfish

Chilean seabass, cod, flounder/sole, halibut, orange roughy, red snapper or tilapia
US wild pole- or troll-caught mahi-mahi, US wild Pacific halibut, US wild Pacific cod (not trawl caught), US wild Pacific whiting or US farmed tilapia

Clams, mussels or oysters
US wild hand-raked clams, US farmed clams, US farmed oysters or US farmed mussels, especially rope-grown

US wild crab (except blue crab*), including: Alaskan King, dungeness, golden, Jonah, rock ("peekeytoe"), stone

US wild lobster, especially American ("Maine") or Pacific spiny

US wild Alaskan salmon

US wild Pacific sardines

US wild diver-caught/day boat scallops

US wild shrimp, especially South Atlantic white, Pacific ("Oregon") pinks and Florida ("Key West" or "Tortugas") pinks

Squid (calamari) or octopus
US wild squid, especially Atlantic trap- or net-caught longfin or Pacific market ("California")

*Blue crab should be avoided due to current over fishing and mercury and PCB contamination concerns.

These recommendations are intended as a general reference.  They are not intended to provide specific medical advice, supplant any government warnings or otherwise prevent exposure to any health hazards associated with seafood.  People should always follow proper acquisition, handling and cooking procedures of any seafood they prepare or consume.

Our Dirty Dozen:

Here's a quick guide to our "dirty dozen" of common seafood choices nationwide that we give a big thumbs down. 

To be avoided:

Atlantic Cod

Atlantic flatfish - e.g.: flounder, halibut, sole

Blue crab

Caviar - wild caught sturgeon, especially Beluga)

Chilean seabass

Farmed salmon - often called "Atlantic salmon"  Tip: don't be fooled by "organic" salmon, either - it's farmed internationally and not certified by US standards.

Imported farmed shrimp

Imported King crab

Orange roughy

Red snapper


Tuna - especially Atlantic bluefin

adapted from the May 2009
"Smart Seafood Guide"

For additional local alternatives in specific regions, please visit:

Please click here for a downloadable and portable copy

For more information, or any questions, please email or call 316.684.6597