Sustainable Fish Guide: The Best and Worst Fish

A basic and straightforward guide to help you buy fish safely and responsibly

(Photo: Flickr/anneCN/CC4.0)


Choosing your fish responsibly is really a two-part process. First, you have to consider the environment: Is the species overfished? Or if it is farm-raised, is that done in an eco-friendly way? Then, you have to figure out the health risks: Is the fish safe to eat? Does it have a high rate of contaminants? And to make things more difficult, these two categories don’t always overlap. Sometimes an eco-friendly fish is one of the most dangerous for you to eat; and vice versa. (Plus, you also need to figure out what all of these terms actually mean.)

The abundance of information available on the web is almost counterproductive because it makes the process incredibly complicated; there are too many decisions to make and factors to consider when you just want to pick a fish for dinner. So we created the Sustainable Fish Guide, which will tell you everything you need to know about shopping responsibly and how to do it. 

Since we couldn’t find a guide that listed the best fish for you and the environment, we made one ourselves (see below). We also made a list of the 10 worst fish to eat. 


The Best Eco-friendly and Healthy Fish To Eat*

It can be difficult to choose a fish because some of the fish that are the best for you to eat health-wise may be the worst eco-wise. Our suggestion? We cross-referenced a health-alerts list and an eco-rated fish list, from the EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) to make our best and worst lists. Also note that the EDF has added a new feature this year that indicates which fish have the most heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.


  • Pacific halibut (caught in Alaska or Canada)
  • Farmed oysters
  • Sablefish/black cod (from Alaska or Canada)
  • Albacore tuna (US and Canada)
  • Wild Alaskan salmon and canned salmon
  • Farmed rainbow trout
  • Clams, farmed and soft-shell
  • Long-fin squid (US)
  • Farmed bay scallops
  • Pink shrimp (from Oregon)
  • Mahimahi (US-caught by troll or pole)
  • Farmed mussels


*As these lists are bound to change, we suggest you also cross-reference the two charts so that you can be updated about your shopping choices. Just use the find and replace key to search for your desired fish.


Read on to see a quick guide to the terms and definitions that we use in this story...