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We all know the awesomeness of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list, which can help us make ethical dining choices just by peeking in our wallets or clicking a mouse. But aren’t you a wee bit curious about how the sustainability mavens at the aquarium decide what to avoid and what to enjoy?

Roz Cummins at Grist was curious, and she did something about it. The fruit of her inquisitiveness is “Fish Stories,” an article that lays out the history of the program and illuminates the criteria by which wild-caught and farmed fish get listed in the annually produced guides.

Cummins notes that, by using the guide and sticking with “best” choices, she doesn’t feel compelled to give up seafood on environmental grounds. “It’s easy enough to make broad statements like ‘there aren’t any fish that can be harvested sustainably.’ But the truth is that the health of the world’s fisheries is species- and situation-specific. We’re fortunate that the Monterey Bay Aquarium has the resources and expertise to interpret the complex data available on fisheries,” she says.

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