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Seafood Watch App

Seafood Watch App

Shoppers and Trends

January 30, 2011

The updated and improved Seafood Watch iPhone App further helps consumers shop sustainably in their hunt for ocean-friendly fish. The Seafood Watch Program, developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, has become the most influential consumer seafood selection tool in the U.S. since its debut in 1999. The companion iPhone app was introduced in 2009.

More than 36 million Seafood Watch pocket guides have been distributed to help individuals make better seafood choices, but the updated iPhone app takes seafood selection to the next level by allowing users to identify restaurants and markets across the country that provide ocean-friendly seafood. Under Project FishMap, users now have the ability to upload new locations for sustainable fish as they discover them, and share them with a growing network of (325,000+) subscribers.

“The consumer is essential in this process, we cannot do it without them,” says Alison Barratt, Communications Senior Associate Manager, Monterey Bay Aquarium. “Seafood Watch has long been the go-to source for consumers to find recommendations about which seafood to buy and why, but up to now, we've not had a resource that can help consumers find such sources. Project FishMap will ultimately be such a resource, with over a million locations pre-loaded in the database, with the ability for users to add additional locations. With the help of app users, we will be able to tag sustainable seafood at these locations and provide a great resource for consumers looking for ocean-friendly choices.”

The free app also has enhanced search functions that help people find seafood quickly and easily by its common market name, or, in the case of sushi, by its Japanese names, making it an invaluable tool for a sushi night out. And for those consumers craving fish on the Seafood Watch “Avoid” list, the app provides some healthy and more sustainable seafood alternatives. No recommendations have been changed as a result of the Gulf oil spill.

In addition, Seafood Watch has been working with retailers such as Whole Foods, who are labeling the wild seafood in their cases according to their recommendations. Consumers' awareness of the issues is driving change in the market, says Barratt, with restaurants, chefs, retailers and other large buyers of seafood seeking advice on sustainable purchasing from Monterey Bay Aquarium and other members of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions.

“The app, our other mobile guides and our printed wallet guides have been helping consumers make informed choices for over 10 years,” says Barratt. “We encourage businesses to use our more comprehensive information which is available on our website. The pocket guide is intended for consumers and is a guide to the most popular items available in each of the six regions for which we have a guide. We have many more recommendations than this, and at a finer level of detail that consumers can use when shopping.”

With 1,500 chefs identifying sustainable seafood as the leading trend in 2011, according to the most recent National Restaurant Association survey, this updated app could not come at a more opportune time for the seafood industry. The time is now, says Barratt, to make saving our oceans a priority.

“Our oceans are in trouble, so it's important that consumers understand that their seafood buying choices make a difference. With the power of our pocket books, we can support fisheries and fish farms that are using responsible methods and create a market for ocean-friendly seafood,” adds Barratt.

 

For more information about the Seafood Watch Program, visitwww.montereybayaquarium.org.