Not too long ago, swordfish was considered an endangered species and consumers were advised to avoid eating it. Now, according to Blue Ocean Institute, the Cold Spring Harbor-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting our oceans’ resources, the North Atlantic swordfish population is showing signs of recovery (due to stronger catch regulations) and the North Pacific fishery looks healthy. However, most swordfish are caught with a longline—a very long fishing line equipped with multiple baited hooks—and sea turtles, sharks and even low-flying albatrosses can get caught and killed.
Swordfish rates a 3 on Blue Ocean’s 1-to-5 scale of fish sustainability. The best fish to eat include U.S.-farmed tilapia and shrimp, Pacific cod and halibut, wild Alaskan salmon, wild clams and farmed mussels and oysters. Fish you should definitely avoid include Atlantic halibut and cod, Chilean sea bass, farmed salmon, imported shrimp and Atlantic bluefin tuna, whose population is critically endangered.
Want to know more? Blue Ocean’s website offers a wealth of in-depth information. The institute’s wallet-sized seafood guide can be downloaded here. And here’s a nifty little app: If you’re in the store or restaurant wondering about the sustainability of a particular species, avail yourself of FishPhone, Blue Ocean’s sustainable seafood text messaging service. Message 512-981-6954 (standard messaging rates still apply) and in the body of your message type the word FISH and the name of the fish in question. Someone will text you back with information on how ocean-friendly your selection is.
Avoid Atlantic bluefin tuna and farmed salmon; albacore, bigeye and yellowfin tuna and wild Alaskan salmon are more sustainable choices. Photo by Marie Claire Andrea.