Can eating fish ever be sustainable?

For someone looking to make their diet more sustainable, the choices when it comes to eating seafood can be frankly baffling. It’s a vast category of food that includes everything from farmed prawns to wild-caught mackerel, and can have a huge array of environmental impacts, from high carbon emissions to the nasty effects of overfishing, slaughtered bycatch or antibiotic pollution.

Many people seeking to eat more environmentally choose to eschew it altogether and go for the vegetarian or vegan option.

But some seafood can be low-carbon, low environmental impact and also be a healthy source of food. And if you’re going to eat fish, making sure you choose a more sustainable option can make a huge difference.

“The category of seafood is really diverse,” says Jessica Gephart, assistant professor in environmental science at the American University in Washington DC. “It includes around 2,500 different species produced by farming and capture fisheries. We’re really talking about very different production systems there.”

Within this, there are some “really great opportunities for finding really sustainable options within that”, she says.

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