When you think about sustainable, healthy seafood, you may picture fisherman line-catching trout splashing in pristine waters. Fish farms, on the other hand, likely bring to mind images of crowded swarms in murky pens.
And while the haze of distrust around aquaculture (fish farming) is justified by complex, global considerations, there are indications that small but important strides are being made toward producing fish that’s better for you and the planet.
Earlier this year, Whole Foods Market rolled out a new sustainable farmed salmon it brought to market with Blue Circle Foods and BioMar. In the same week, popular salad chain Sweetgreen announced it was adding farmed steelhead (a fish that resembles salmon but is actually a type of trout) to its menu, after the provider, Pacific Seafood, became the first farm of its kind to receive Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification. “We’ve gone from about 700 certified facilities at the end of 2014 to 1,172 at the end of February 2016,” says Steven Hedlund, communications manager for Global Aquaculture Alliance, the organization behind BAP.
While certifications and standards vary in their criteria, sustainable fish farming generally minimizes disease, damage to surrounding ecosystems, and the amount of wild fish used as feed (in addition to using healthy feed alternatives). While creating systems that meet those standards is possible, they’ve generally been the exception to…