Avoid Chilean Seabass

By | March 1, 2010

Pacific halibutNext time you’re thinking seafood for dinner, don’t order the Chilean sea bass. The Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health advisory for it due to the high levels of mercury. Plus, scientists have warned it is critically over-fished and possibly on the road to extinction.

Chilean sea bass is a slow-growing fish that takes years to reach reproductive age, making it particularly vulnerable to overfishing. They can live to be six feet long and more than 50 years old, but fishermen are reporting smaller and smaller weights and lower catches.

Since Chilean sea bass live in remote Antarctic waters, law enforcement is difficult and large numbers of boats fish these waters illegally, without proper permits or gear, resulting in most Chilean seabass fished unsustainably.

And according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Chilean sea bass is caught with bottom longlines, which damage the seafloor and lead to high rates of bycatch, meaning the death of seabirds, turtles and other nontarget species.

Good alternatives to Chilean sea bass include:

  • Striped bass
  • Pacific halibut
  • sablefish (black cod)
  • Mahi mahi

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