Seafood Watch upgrades status of 21 fish species

In a major turnaround that argues for strong fisheries management, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s trusted Seafood Watch program has upgraded the status of 21 commercially important fish, including most species of Pacific rockfish in a report released Tuesday.

Overall, according to Seafood Watch, 84% of all the groundfish landings on the West Coast are now considered either “best choice” or “good alternative” – the two highest rankings. Groundfish are fish that live on or near the bottom. Previously they had been considered troubled because of overfishing and because of the ecological damage caused to the ocean floor by trawling.

“This is one of the great success stories about ecological and economic recovery of a commercially important fishery,” said Margaret Spring, vice president of conservation and science, and chief conservation officer for the Monterey Bay Aquarium in a release.

“A huge part of the turnaround is reliance on science-based conservation and management practices that Congress endorsed in its 2006 update of U.S. fishery law.”

Among the species upgraded are all trawl- and long-line caught rockfish, which previously had been listed as “avoid” and flatfish such as sanddabs and Pacific soles, which were bumped from “good alternative” to “best choice.”

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