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The phrase sustainable seafood is more than just a marketing catch phrase. It’s a movement, and the health of our oceans depends on it.

Three quarters of our planet is covered by ocean and 80% of all life on earth lives within its waters. Yet due to lack of global management of our oceans, humans are overfishing our waters and depleting their resources at an alarming rate.

Making informed choices about the fish we serve in our restaurants plays a major role in letting the oceans replenish themselves and maintain healthy ecosystems.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, widely considered the most trusted source on sustainable seafood, defines it as “seafood from sources, whether fished or farmed that can maintain or increase production without jeopardizing the structure and function of affected ecosystems.”

Seafood on ice at the fish market

The way fish are caught or farmed have a huge impact on the ocean. Some methods are very destructive, increasing pollution and damaging habitats, and others have a smaller impact. When the fishing industry uses the right method for a particular type of fish, they can minimize the impact of their fishing on the environment.

Seafood and sushi restaurants are particularly dependent on the oceans for their livelihood. Thankfully, using only sustainable seafood in your restaurant is not only good for the ocean, it’s also good for your business. Over 50% of American diners say that buying sustainable seafood is important to them, and they’re willing to pay more for it.

As a restaurant, what can you do to help our oceans?

Be proactive

Before deciding on which fish you will incorporate into your menu, check out the Seafood Watch website for its Seafood Recommendations. Updated regularly, it provides the most current information on the state of all types of fishes. Simply enter the fish you’re interested in into their database and find out if it’s a good choice, or one to be avoided. It will also tell you alternatives when appropriate. You can also search by region to see what the state of certain fish in your part of the world is. They even have a handy app you can download and do this all from your phone.

Be outspoken

Let your suppliers know that you only want sustainable seafood. Ask about the fishing methods used in whatever products you are buying and make sure what you’re buying has the least amount of impact on the environment. Always avoid buying any fish that is in a critical situation.

Be a steward

Let your customers know the steps you’re making to keep the oceans vibrant. Train your employees on the importance of sustainable seafood, and why your restaurant is committed to keeping our oceans healthy. Let your customers know that their choice to eat sustainable seafood is making just as big of an impact on the ocean. You’re both part of the movement.

What we eat, where we spend our money and what businesses we support all say something about values. Make a statement to help protect our oceans.

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Kristin lives on the West Side of Providence with her wine blogger husband. When she's not co-hosting their monthly wine tastings, she's planning her next travel adventure and daydreaming about Spanish jamón. She can often be found pouring over travel guides at her favorite neighborhood spot, Nick's on Broadway.
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