It indicated that the haddock and cod I ate were likely a 2 (out of 5, the best being 1) rating, while the Scottish farmed salmon was a 3 (better than the 5 rating given to wild-caught Atlantic salmon).
f youThe mackerel could have been a 1, 2 or 3, depending on the exact catching method and exactly where it was caught, which I didn’t know.
It’s not terrible, but I realise I could be doing far better on this by looking specifically for the 1-2 rated sources.
Sarah Poon is the associate vice president of the Fishery Solution Center at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a non-profit. But despite her knowledge of fisheries, she says she still struggles with the day-to-day challenges of how to make good decisions about seafood.
“I think it’s helpful to look at the guides to understand the nuance,” she says. “[They] have looked at not just the species, but where the species come from: what might be a good choice in one place could actually be not a great choice in another place.”
Over time using these apps, people can develop a deeper understanding of which gear types tend to be better than others, and which countryies’ fisheries and farms are doing a better job, says Liz Nussbaumer, project director for seafood at the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
Erin Hudson, Seafood Watch programme director, says she tries to remember a few “safe bets” from the Seafood Watch app for when she doesn’t have her phone handy while shopping. “For me personally, when I’m eating on the California Central Coast, that’s going to be anything with farmed mussels […] or farmed rainbow trout or local rockfish species,” she says.
The ratings also change over time, though, adds Hudson. “Conditions in fisheries and farming operations do change, and we release new ratings every month. Things are always moving, and that’s great – we want to see improvements happen. And we want to stay on top of when things slide the other way.”
Can you trust labels?
Both these apps refer to certificates like the Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) in their ratings, which can also be found on fish packets in the supermarket. Despite the criticisms from films like Seaspiracy of these certificates, all the experts I talked to said they are worth taking into account when making choices.