Welcome to the Smithsonian Institution's Sustainable Seafood website. This site complements One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish - The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook by Carole C. Baldwin and Julie H. Mounts (Smithsonian Books, 2003). Here you will find fascinating information about the seafood you enjoy at your dinner table.
As a consumer, you have seafood choices. Did you know that not all fish and shellfish that are available in today's markets and restaurants are good choices from an environmental perspective? Population sizes of seafood species vary over time - both naturally and depending on how heavily they are fished. Some are clearly in good shape due in part to good fisheries management, and those are excellent seafood choices. Others have experienced dramatic declines due to over harvesting or environmental fluctuations, and choosing those seafood species further contributes to the problems. Many seafood species fall somewhere in between - not bad choices, but there are concerns that you may want to be aware of.
We have divided seafood species into "suggested" and "problematic" choices based on current scientific data. Click on the "Choices" icon to find landings charts that show the number of pounds of a seafood species that have been caught over time. You will also find links to scientific reports that document how some fishing practices and even seafood farming can be detrimental. We summarize the current issues surrounding seafood choices under the "Issues" icon. We have also created a virtual Seafood Market where you can try your hand at making sustainable seafood choices.
This site provides a perspective on sustainable seafood based on years of research on the topic. But categorizing seafood species as good or problematic choices is not an exact science. There are numerous variables involved, and, in many cases, sufficient information to assess all the variables does not exist. As more data are obtained that reflect changes in the status of different seafood species, this site will be updated.