The sustainable seafood trend

With the end of one year and the start of another, trend stories come flying – forecasts of what the future will look like over the next 12 months. This year, I’m pleased to see that sustainable seafood is on top of the charts – with a bullet.

The annual chef survey by Nation’s Restaurant News puts sustainability, sustainable seafood and locally sourced seafood in the top 10 on its annual list of Top 20 trends. Andrew Freeman & Co., the hospitality and restaurant consultants who keep the pulse of the industry, list sustainable seafood among their top 10 restaurant trends for the new year too. The Food Channel had sustainability and transparency as three of its 10 top trends in seafood for the year.

This is great news for everyone who cares about seafood.

When the Monterey Bay Aquarium launched its Seafood Watch program 10 years ago, we did so with the goal of bringing about real change on the water. For us that means encouraging sales of wild fish that are caught in ways that don’t damage ecosystems or reduce the ocean’s capacity to produce seafood for human consumption. It means similarly supporting seafood aquaculture that protects habitats vital to marine life, and to people.

From the beginning we’ve worked with individual consumers, chefs and major buyers to build a market for sustainable seafood. We’ve based our work in science so that everyone – regardless of how they define “sustainable seafood” – could see the data on which we base our recommendations.

And, as we documented in our report, Turning the Tide: The State of Seafood, there are now powerful trends moving in a healthy direction. The challenges are still great, and not all under the control of people in the seafood industry. (Global climate change could reverse all our progress if we don’t get a handle on carbon pollution.)

But the trend lines are clear, stretching back to Unilever’s commitment to help create the Marine Stewardship Council, Walmart’s decision to adopt a sustainable seafood purchasing policy, and the actions of many other major buyers and distributors – including our own partners like Bon Appétit Management Company, Compass Group, ARAMARK and Santa Monica Seafood.  

To paraphrase songwriter Arlo Guthrie, if just one or two businesses do it, they may seem a little bit odd and out of step. If three businesses do it, it begins to look like an organization. But when 50 businesses do it, there’s only one way d to describe what’s happening. Friends, it’s a movement.

That’s what we have today: a sustainable seafood movement that’s really taking wing.

Note: I’m honored that the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has been offered this opportunity to blog for SeafoodSource. Our intent is to provide relevant information around sustainable seafood issues and the sustainable seafood movement. We’ll include perspectives from guest bloggers with other leading conservation organizations working in this arena, and from industry partners who are engaged in the movement.


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