I don’t eat seafood terribly often, but when I do, I want to make smart choices that don’t contribute to overfishing and ocean-habitat damage. Over the years, I’ve had a few of those pocket guides to sustainable seafood, but I never seem to be able to hang onto them.
So I was excited when my friend Zoë pointed me to FishPhone.org, a project of the Blue Ocean Institute. It’s designed to be accessed via cell phone, and it features a simple drop-down menu listing 34 species names, with short, helpful write-ups for each that lay out the sustainability issues and help you decide whether consuming, say, orange roughy, jibes with your ethics (answer: probably not, as the trawls used to catch it also kill threatened deep-sea sharks; then there’s the fact that, left unmolested, orange roughy commonly live to be 100 or older).
There’s also a text-messaging option for phones without internet access: just dial 30644 with the word “fish,” followed by the name of the sea creature you’re wondering about.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a similar initiative, seafoodwatch.org, that lists worst, better, and best seafood choices. There’s no SMS option and no text blurbs, but the information is region-specific (for the U.S. only), and it includes a Spanish-language guide.
Next time you’re flummoxed by a seafood menu or racking your brain in the fish aisle, stop casting about and give one of these tools a try.