MSC Blue Fish Guide to Sustainable Seafood

Can You Protect Sea Life by Eating Ocean-Friendly Seafood?

Button with text Welcome! You’re here because you want to incorporate seafood into a balanced diet for you and your family—without negatively impacting our ocean and the diverse creatures that call it home. How do you do that without compromising on morals or health? 

Choosing seafood that is sustainable is a win-win for people and planet, but what does “sustainability” even mean? Generally, seafood is considered “sustainable” if it is caught or farmed in a way that keeps the marine environment intact, comes from a healthy population of fish, and is caught with oversight from regional and national management bodies.  

We’re here to show that you can consume seafood mindfully, creating meals that are good for you, good for your family, and good for the planet with one simple action: choose certified sustainable seafood. 

illustration of swirling salmon swimming around plate of sushi with MSC blue fish label

This MSC Blue Fish Guide will serve as a compass on your journey, leading you to seafood choices that are good for you and the ocean, too. Let’s begin!

What is the MSC Blue Fish Label?

 

Horizontal and Vertical MSC Ecolabels in English

 

The choices we make have a ripple effect. The tuna we choose can encourage more ocean-friendly fishing practices. The shellfish we share with friends can help safeguard a species. That’s why it’s critical to look for the MSC Blue Fish Label every time you shop for seafood.

When you see the MSC blue fish label, you can purchase the seafood knowing that it’s:

  • Sustainably Sourced – The stocks are fished in such a way does not threaten the population's health⠀
  • From a Fully Traceable Supply Chain – The product you purchase can be traced from ocean to your plate, along every step of the supply chain
  • Wild-Caught – The seafood you’re consuming comes from the big blue ocean, lakes, or rivers

Three icons showing traceable, wild-caught, and certified sustainable

It’s a clear win-win for your family and the ocean. 

Why Should I Trust the MSC Blue Fish Label?

To be sold with the MSC blue fish label, seafood must come from a fishery certified to the internationally recognized MSC Fisheries Standard – a set of science-based criteria that verifies how sustainable and ocean-friendly a fishery is. The standard is developed in partnership with a wide range of top experts in their respective fields, including scientists, the fishing industry, conservation groups, and others. 

There are several fail-safes, including mandatory third-party accreditation and fish DNA testing, in place to ensure that the MSC stays impartial and fair throughout the process and to verify that the system works. 

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In short, you can feel comfortable trusting the MSC Blue Fish Label because it is a scientifically-backed mark that you’re purchasing and consuming certified sustainable seafood.

Where Can I Find Certified Sustainable Seafood Near Me?

The MSC blue fish label is likely hiding in plain sight in your local grocery store–once you see it for the first time, you might start noticing it on a wide variety of products! 

In case you need a little help getting started, try looking for it in the following places:

  • The frozen food aisle
  • The chilled and refrigerated goods section
  • The seafood counter
  • The dietary supplements aisle or health and wellness section
  • The pet aisle (yes, even your furry friends can do good while eating good!)

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Seafood Certifications and Ratings

How do you know what to look for when you’re shopping for sustainable seafood?  What do the logos on seafood products and restaurant menus mean? Or, what do you do when there is no logo and you want to be sure you’re making a good choice for the ocean? 

Seafood certification and ratings programs are two reliable ways to trust that you’re making an ocean-friendly choice when buying fish and other seafood products. Both serve important roles in driving a more transparent seafood supply chain and encouraging companies to make continuous improvements toward sustainability. They’re independent from seafood brands, retailers or restaurants, but work with them to keep them accountable and responsible.   

Illustration of fish with waves, salmon steaks, and various seafood ingredients

Here are three simple things you can do when shopping for seafood or ordering fish at your favorite restaurant:  

1. Ask the store/restaurant if they sell sustainable seafood: It always helps to ask – you might be surprised to find sustainable seafood hiding in plain sight. If a store or restaurant isn’t serving sustainable seafood yet, your question could prompt them to start! 

2. Check the logos on packaging, menus, and grocery store signage: Look for a logo on product packaging or menu that indicates environmental sustainability or responsible farming from an independent organization. For example, when you see the MSC blue fish logo, you can be sure that a specific seafood item is wild-caught, certified sustainable, traceable through the supply chain, and fighting seafood fraud and mislabeling. 

3. Look for sustainable seafood ratings: If a product isn’t certified, ratings can indicate whether your choice is ocean-friendly. For example, the Seafood Watch ratings show you which species are “Best Choice”, “Good Alternative” and which you should “Avoid” according to environmental indicators.  

Certifications and ratings can apply to both wild-caught and farmed fish. 

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Is My Favorite Seafood Dish Sustainable?

Seafood lovers rejoice there are plenty of delicious and sustainable versions of your favorite seafood staple out there! Take a deep dive into sustainable seafood—including their origins, best preparation methods, and more, with our species-specific pages:

What Else Can I Do to Protect the Ocean?

You’re looking for the MSC blue fish when shopping for seafood–yay! Every time you choose wild-caught seafood, you’re opting into a source of protein with a low carbon footprint and doing your part to halt climate change. Want to take your ocean-friendly journey to the next level?

Here are just a few simple steps:

Start a conversation – It takes a village to make change happen. Let your friends and family know why it’s important to look for the MSC blue fish label on their next shopping trip, and how it can protect ocean health. Join the sustainable seafood conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or by using the #FeelGoodSeafood hashtag. 

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Diversify your palate – One of the best ways to help maintain healthy fish stocks is to diversify the type of seafood you enjoy. Intimidated by the thought of preparing unknown seafood dishes? We’ve got you covered.


Consume Responsibly Farmed Seafood, too Look for this label from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) to know that you’re choosing responsibly farmed seafood (& seaweed!

Vertical and Horizontal versions of the ASC ecolabel in English

Introduce other ocean-friendly practices – While the MSC is dedicated to ending overfishing, we understand that there are other issues our ocean faces, including pollution and climate change. Explore five simple actions you can take to live a more ocean-friendly life.

Sustainable Seafood Terms To Know

It can be easy to get lost in the sea of words and phrases related to certified sustainable seafood. Steer your ship in the right direction with this glossary of terms. 

Illustration of sea floor featuring shrimp, starfish, seaweed, coral, and shells

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