Ocean-friendly Seafood Research

Blue Ocean Institute offers many different formats for finding out whether a fish or shellfish is considered sustainable. Some people want to refer only to the color ranking available in stores or in seafood wallet guides. Others are satisfied with the short summary included in the wallet guides or via FishPhone. Still others read the entire seafood report on our website. Regardless of the format, the seafood information they use is based on many months of research.

Each seafood report typically takes one to two months to create. An initial ranking report is generated using the answers to 60+ questions (including questions specific to whether the species is fished or farmed).  Another month or two is then needed for the report to be peer-reviewed by scientists that specialize on that species. During this phase, we make sure that the report is factually accurate, contains the latest information, and is as complete as possible. Reliable sources are used to answer the ranking questions, including fishery reports, scientific publications, and personal communications with experts in the field. Factoring in the 50-100 publications that are read for each seafood report, each report represents a lot of detective work.

The final seafood ranking is not static, however, because factors change over time. For example, a wild-caught species may become more abundant, a farmed species’ diet can change, and management or farming practices evolve. Because of these changing factors, it is Blue Ocean Institute’s policy to update all existing seafood reports every 2 years. This is a huge undertaking considering Blue Ocean Institute has ranked over 130 species so far, and this is only possible due to the hard work of a team of fishery biologists. This research is necessary to provide authoritative and transparent seafood reports that give an honest reflection of the environmental cost of fishing and farming our seafood.

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