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Real Good Fish | Blog | | 5 Things You Should Know About Sustainable Seafood | You’ve probably heard the term sustainable thrown around in conversation about the food we eat, but with so much information out there...
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5 Things You Should Know About Sustainable Seafood

You’ve probably heard the term "sustainable" thrown around in conversation about the food we eat, but with so much information out there (and for those trying to grasp the basics), it can sometimes be overwhelming. If you’re actively seeking information, that’s one of the most important steps, so bravo! We’re here to make it even more digestible so you can feel informed and therefore make better choices in your day-to-day life. 

Here’s a quick overview to get you started! 

At Real Good Fish—you can trust us to do most of the hard work.

  • Catch less fish than the fish reproduce on their own—the US government established catch limits mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976 to ensure we build and maintain sustainable fisheries.
  • Minimize impacts to sensitive habitat and species of concern—resource management issues permits, protects areas, establishes seasons, and limits gear types that ensure fishing activities are not doing unnecessary harm. 
  • Support effective governance and management of our oceans and fisheries— We purchase American seafood and engage in the public policy processes that are essential for enjoying and protecting our valuable fishery resources.
  • Provide healthier wages to fishermen and workers—Competing with the global industry and cheaper imports is unsustainable. Our fisheries are some of the most well-managed in the world and highest quality. We pay our fishermen more because they deserve it.
  • Ensure traceability of our supply chain—we celebrate our fishermen not because we have to, but because we want to. Honestly, everything tastes better when you know where it came from.
  • Sustainable seafood is an essential food—we believe wild seafood is a public resource for all corners of society to enjoy. Our Bay2Tray program ensures access to local seafood and inspires the next generation of ocean stewards.

Remember YOU are also an active participant in the solution.

  • Minimize food miles—eat American seafood, as direct from the source as possible.
  • Eat a diversity of species that are in season—not just the popular fish like shrimp, tuna, salmon, and cod. 
  • Eat more small fish—fish that were meant to be eaten by bigger fish like mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. 
  • Make a commitment to yourself and your family—with a subscription you can make it easy and convenient to do what is right and delicious! 

1. What Makes Seafood Sustainable?
Simply, to call seafood sustainable, it must be caught (or farmed via aquaculture) with minimal social or environmental impacts. Sustainable sourcing can prevent and benefit various outcomes, starting with avoiding overfishing, rebuilding natural stocks, identifying and protecting natural habitats, and minimizing bycatch and interactions with protected species. At Real Good Fish, sustainability is at the core of every sourcing decision we make. Beyond the basic environmental principles of sustainability, we consider social equity impacts as well. As part of the local coastal communities we serve, we include the health and well-being of our fishing partners and our customers in our definition of sustainable seafood too. It includes paying our fishermen more than the industry average and purchasing bycatch and underloved species that other markets can’t or won’t take. It’s also fundamentally tied to our unique membership model that connects fishermen and the community directly through shorter supply chains and a more bountiful diet consisting of seafood that is in season and of high abundance. The more our communities are tuned into the health of the marine ecosystems the greater chance we stand to restore and protect our oceans.


2. Why Are Sustainable Fishing Methods So Important?
Destructive fishing techniques can contribute to overfishing and the destruction of species or habitats. In addition, some 7+ million tons of bycatch happens each year and can include other marine life and fish populations, including sea turtles, sharks, and small whale species. We support various sustainable fishing methods at Real Good Fish, from Rod and Reel, Trolling, Trapping, and Purse Seine to Long Lining, Bottom Trawling, and Gillnets. Transparency about these methods is essential to our mission, and each time you receive your fresh catch, you’ll see not only who caught your fish or seafood but also the method they used to catch it. It’s also important to know that in most cases, sustainability isn’t the result of one fisherman or one business effort—but a collective action across the local industry, consumers, and various government bodies that oversee the management of our fisheries and oceans. It’s this dynamic that creates the unique and complex situation that enables sustainability and makes our domestic fisheries some of the best-managed in the world. Real Good Fish is actively engaged in these various efforts and processes that yield improved fisheries year over year and ensure sustainability for generations to come.  



3. Is Sustainable Seafood a Better Environmental Choice?
Seafood is one of the most sustainable proteins on the planet and about 30 percent of the global population relies on seafood as a primary protein and food source! In the United States, we import a surprising 60-65% of the seafood we consume—making us the world leader in seafood imports. That means the seafood on your plate has traveled (on average) over 5,000 miles, with little regulation on destructive catch practices, and in some cases is caught using illegal methods or even slave labor. At Real Good Fish, because of our sourcing practices and short supply chains, your seafood travels a fraction of the national average before it reaches your plate! Making an effort to incorporate more seafood into our diets—especially if sourced responsibly—is a great way to balance taking what we need today and ensure we have availability in the future. Another key component of eating sustainable seafood is trying various species, including those that may traditionally be thought of as underappreciated or as bycatch. The majority of Americans consume the same 4-5 types of seafood in a given year, putting tremendous impacts on those species. By expanding those options and taking care to enjoy a diverse array of seafood, we spread our collective impacts around, lessening the pressure put on already sensitive or threatened species. At Real Good Fish, we offer over 60 different fish species throughout the year and love introducing our community to new favorites they may not have found in the local grocery store fish-counter before.

4. Can Eating More Sustainable Fish Help My Health?
Many of us think about making better choices for our family’s health and wellbeing. The USDA now recommends two or more 4-ounce seafood or fish servings a week in place of other animal proteins. Many sustainable fish varieties also come with excellent nutritional benefits too—they are high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy omega-3s while containing low amounts of harmful chemicals and contaminants. Beyond the good-for-you traits, seafood is also absolutely delicious. While some people may feel like they’re unsure how to prepare seafood or are worried about time and effort in the kitchen alongside an already busy schedule—cooking fresh, high-quality, sustainable seafood is simple. The beauty of the fresh catch? It needs little more than simple seasonings and a few minutes in a pan to create a vibrant star for your next family dinner. Along with tips and tricks in our member emails, we also provide various recipes to serve as inspiration for your next meal.


5. What Are the Other Impacts of Sustainable Seafood?

Yes, choosing to eat sustainably can surely benefit you and your family, but did you know that a significant number of coastal towns depend on small-scale fisheries for food and income? By incorporating more local seafood into your everyday lives, you help support the hard-working American fishermen and related industries that employ our communities throughout the supply chains while feeding our friends and neighbors. Your choices can directly affect the local commercial fisherman’s livelihoods, some of who have been fishing in their family for generations. At Real Good Fish, preserving our marine resources and our working waterfront communities while inspiring our neighbors and our children to be the next stewards of our oceans and planet is how we define seafood sustainability. It may sound like a tall order for a small company like ours, but it’s because of YOU that it is possible.