Order This, Not That: Seafood

A lot of us are ordering takeout because let’s be honest, cooking right now is hard. If you eat seafood, here are 3 sustainable types that you should order and 3 you should avoid. These are also go to general rules for choosing what types of fish to eat when cooking for yourself at home.


  1. Salmon:
    • Buy Atlantic salmon sold under the Nordic Blue Brand. If you can’t find this brand look for salmon farmed in recirculating tanks with wastewater treatment.
    • A good alternative is to buy Atlantic salmon from Maine, British Columbia Canada, Scotland’s Orkney Islands, the Faroe Islands, or Verlasso and Blue Circle Food brands.
  2. Sea Urchin:
    • Visiting Japan caused me to fall in LOVE with sea urchin sushi, called uni. If the Uni is fresh it tastes like buttery goodness and was one of my favorite sushi types to order even before I got into sustainability.
    • Warning: There are different species of sea urchin. Green sea urchin caught in the Northwest Atlantic and Canada are not fished sustainability so make sure you ask about a restaurant’s sourcing.
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  3. Shrimp:
    • Tiger prawns are the king. Giant tiger prawns especially those raised in indoor recirculating tanks with waste water treatment or Silvoculture are good options. Most of these tiger prawns are sourced from Southeast asia, Whiteleg prawns raised in indoor recirculating tanks are also a good choice.


  1. Tuna:
    • This one hurts. I know. I love eating tuna. It’s a huge part of the cuisine that I grew up on so giving this one up has been particularly hard for me.
    • To be clear there are times when I still eat Tuna. Going to a famous sushi restaurant? You better believe that I am going to eat some tuna. But I have given up more day to day consumption, such as buying a tuna roll from Kroger or Whole Foods or ordering tuna at a normal restaurant when there are more sustainable options available. Before the pandemic I might eat a can of tuna once every 6 months, if that.
    • What works: try to reframing it. I am not really giving it up tuna, just eating it less frequently. I am also taking the opportunity to discover new and interesting seafood that I haven’t gotten a chance to try before.
  2. Chilean Sea Bass:
    • I have known that Chilean Sea Bass has been harvested unsustainably for a long time. This fish’s original name is the Patagonia Toothfish…TOOTHFISH?! Yes, actually changing the original name was a marketing ploy by fishermen to make their product more appealing to the American market. The result has been a struggle to keep this fish from being overfished ever since.
    • What works: This is a fish commonly found in many higher end seafood restaurants. It also comes with a fairly hefty price tag. Don’t get sucked in by the marketing and choose a different white flesh fish like farmed halibut.
  3. Eel:
    • Also known as Ugani in sushi restaurants. Eel tastes good if cooked correctly, but the production of eels is heavily reliant on wild populations for farm stock. Juveniles are farm-raised after being captured in the wild. This puts a lot of pressure on wild populations. The seafood industry needs to come up with better tracking and farming methods for this seafood.
    • What works: The only place I have really ever encountered eel is at Japanese restaurants. Since it isn’t an ingredient that is commonly used, I look forward to ordering other more sustainable items on the menu when planning my trips to sushi restaurants.

Information for this post was taken from Seafood Watch. This is an app that is put together by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It rates different types of seafood based on how sustainably it is fished and how close the species is to extinction.

You can download Seafood Watch here.

It’s a helpful reference point when you are at the store shopping for seafood and while ordering seafood for takeout or from restaurants. Enjoy!

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