Tomorrow Is International Sushi Day 2013: Which Fish Species Are The Most Eco-Friendly To Eat?

By Philip Ross on June 17, 2013 1:31 PM EDT

international sushi day
International Sushi Day is just around the corner. Making smart choices about what fish to eat is important. Find out what kind of fish to avoid and what to dig into. (Photo: Reuters)

Tomorrow is International Sushi Day 2013, a sacred, nontraditional (it started over social media in 2009) holiday for fish enthusiasts the world over.

If you'll be celebrating the centuries-old Japanese fare (which, technically, doesn't have anything to do with raw fish -- sushi refers to the vinegar-seasoned riced used as the base for anything from raw fish to raw meat) know the impact of your fish choices on the environment.

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Which tuna is the most eco-friendly to eat? Is farm-raised salmon better than wild-caught salmon? How can I know I'm not depleting the ocean of halibut?

And even if you're not a seafood a-fish-ionado just yet, it's good to know which fish species are the most eco-friendly to eat for when that time does come.

Choosing the right kind of fish, especially on International Sushi Day 2013, involves selecting between sustainable fishing techniques and less ecologically friendly ones. According to U.S. News and World Report, there are two branches of sustainable fishing methods: Wild fishing techniques that don't overly deplete the ocean's targeted fish stock, and aquaculture practices that don't pollute the environment or contaminate wild fish populations by allowing farmed fish to escape.

In some cases, open ocean fishing is best. In others, fish farming is better. It really depends on the fish.

Luckily for us fish lovers, the Environmental Defense Fund, or EDF, a U.S.-based environmental advocacy group that works on issues like ecosystem restoration and global climate change, has done the grunt work of figuring out the most eco-friendly fish species for us.

The organization's Seafood Selector charts what fish to eat and which to avoid, taking into account a species' ability to repopulate, the fishing methods used to catch them and even the species' mercury levels.

Here are five fish to ask for on International Sushi Day. Stick to these tips, and you'll find navigating the dire straits of seafood sustainability.

Of all the tunas, U.S. albacore and yellowfin are best.
Unlike Bluefin tuna, which grow slowly, U.S. albacore and yellowfin mature quickly and reproduce often, making them more resilient to fishing pressure.

Yellowfin, also called ahi, while not threatened, does have one of the higher mercury contents of wild fish. It should be eaten in moderation.

Ask for wild Alaskan salmon, not farmed salmon.
Wild Alaskan salmon is low in mercury and high in Omega-3s. It is also the most sustainable salmon. According to the EDF, wild salmon from Alaska come from fisheries that are well-managed and are low in contaminants.

Salmon farming, on the other hand, has numerous detrimental effects on the environment, including water pollution, parasites and disease.

Always choose American shrimp.
Almost 90 percent of all shrimp consumed in the U.S. comes from Southeast Asia and Latin America, where shrimp populations are not protected by environmental regulations.

Northern shrimp and U.S. wild shrimp, like the pink shrimp from Oregon and the spot prawn from Canada, are your best bets.

Just for the halibut.
When it comes to halibut, Pacific halibut is best. They come from well-kept fisheries and have low rates of bycatch.

California halibut is OK, but halibut from Alaska and Canada is better.

Avoid imported mahimahi.
Choose U.S. mahimahi instead.

Happy International Sushi Day!

Read more from iScience Times:

Jellyfish Blooms: Is Rising Jellyfish Population A Sign That Our Oceans Are In Trouble? 

Extreme Summer Heat Causing Massive Fish Die Off 

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