21 Fish You Can Now Eat Guilt-Free

Seafood Watch has upgraded several species from ‘avoid’ to ‘best choice’ or ‘good alternative.’

(Photo: Michael Melford/Getty Images)
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Good news, seafood lovers: 21 fish species just officially became more sustainable to eat.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation announced on Tuesday the biggest turnaround by West Coast fisheries 14 years after harvesting of groundfish (including what’s sold as “snapper”) in the region was declared a failure. The organization’s Seafood Watch program—which labels species “best choice,” “good alternative,” or “avoid”—added several species to its sustainable list. Those include crab, lobster, Pacific cod, and several rockfish species. All groundfish caught off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington are now ranked “good alternative” or “best choice.” They include:

Dogfish, Spiny
Grouper, Black
Grouper, Gag
Grouper, Red
Perch, Pacific Ocean
Rockfish, Aurora
Rockfish, Blackgill
Rockfish, Bocaccio
Rockfish, Canary
Rockfish, Chilipepper
Rockfish, Darkblotched
Rockfish, Greenstriped
Rockfish, Rougheye
Rockfish, Spiltnose
Rockfish, Vermilion
Rockfish, Widow
Rockfish, Yellowtail
Skate, Winter

See the entire list here.

“This is one of the great success stories about ecological and economic recovery of a commercially important fishery,” Margaret Spring, chief conservation officer for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said in a statement. “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.”

The report credits the improvement to the creation of protected areas (including vulnerable habitats), enforcement of quotas, and better monitoring of catch.

“It is so gratifying to see fishermen and conservation interests coming together,” Monterey Harbormaster Steve Scheiblauer said in the statement.

Seafood Watch assesses the sustainability of species by working with fishery experts and reviewing government reports and new research. It updates its seafood recommendations every six months.

“For chefs, this is great news,” said Richard Blais, a member of the Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel. “It gives us more sustainable-seafood options to work with.”

Americans should still be wary of eating plenty of species of fish, however. Bluefin populations, for instance, have dropped so significantly in recent years that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is considering a ban on catching the fish.  

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