Chilean Sea Bass Is Going Back on Our Plates

Regulation of Chilean sea bass fisheries is making the fish a more sustainable option

For years, illegal and unregulated fishing of the toothfish which we know as the Chilean sea bass made it so that only sea bass fished by certain regulated fisheries were considered a sustainable option for consumption. But with enforcement measures in recent years, the fish is better regulated and more restaurants are putting it back on their menus, says a press release by the Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators (COLTO).

After a nearly yearlong assessment of fisheries, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch upgraded the status of some fisheries from the “avoid” category to the “best choice” and “good alternative” categories. All fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council were upgraded.

Chilean sea bass is caught in the waters around Australia, Chile, South Africa, and Argentina. According to COLTO, 80 percent of the total allowable catch (TAC), accounting for 24,789 metric tons, for 2012 and 2013 is caught by COLTO members on 40 fishing vessels. Part of the fishery is managed by the Commission of Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), and the remainder, which accounts for 9,430 metric tons of the TAC, is caught outside of the CCAMLR area.


In the United States, fish importers require a permit and a pre-approval certificate for each toothfish shipment brought into the country.