UW Combined Fund Drive

September 28, 2021

Consume Seafood Sustainably to Protect Ocean Ecosystems

Jeff McClean/NOAA

Seafood and Seattle go hand-in-hand. Summer in Seattle is often synonymous with fresh salmon and the Puget Sound is home to world-class crustaceans and mollusks. Not only does it taste good, seafood has positive impacts on our health and is proven to lower the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, seafood can have detrimental effects on our planet when not managed or harvested sustainably.

Currently over 171 million tons of seafood are harvested each year, feeding some 3 billion people. There has been an annual increase in seafood consumers for many years, and yet wild fish stock populations have stayed level. The Marine Stewardship Council has estimated that 90% of fish stock is already fully or over-exploited. Overfishing can have harmful effects on ocean ecosystems and can dramatically alter aquatic and terrestrial food webs.

Recreational fishers and seafood consumers should remember that with a love for catching and consuming seafood comes a responsibility to protect our ocean ecosystems.

One way to eat seafood sustainably is to buy from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) managed fisheries. NOAA Fisheries work closely with eight regional fishery management councils and are guided by several laws that prevent overfishing and protect marine ecosystems.

Regulated aquaculture is another way to consume seafood sustainably. When implemented correctly, aquaculture is recognized as one of the most environmentally conscious ways to produce seafood.

NOAA has found that the benefits from farming shellfish like oysters and mussels include removing pollutants from water ways, providing habitat for smaller marine life, and helping prevent shoreline erosion. Marine aquaculture, when managed properly, has a smaller carbon footprint and require less land and fresh water than other forms of livestock.

Wondering how to navigate the different wild and farmed fisheries to buy from? Check out NOAA’s FishWatch to understand more about what seafood is best to eat in your region. At the grocery store you can look for seafood items with a blue MSC label. These items are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as meeting sustainable Fisheries Standards.


Consider making a one-time contribution or setting up payroll deduction to one of our member organizations working to protect our ocean habitats and encourage sustainable fishing.

Interested in supporting organizations that work to….

Protect salmon in the Pacific Northwest? Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (org code 1479880)

Set a standard for sustainable fishing? Marine Stewardship Council (org code 0487463)

Provide research and technical guidance to Pacific Coast communities with NOAA? UW Washington Sea Grant Development Fund (org code 14827739)

Support locally-driven marine restoration and remove neglected fishing gear? Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Foundation (org code 1478202)

Conduct research on all Pacific Northwest marine life? Oceans Initiative (org code 1483007)

Contributed by UWCFD campaign assistant Annabel Weyhrich