Dial F for fish


This has roughly zero climate change relevance, but it’s nifty and green and perhaps you’ll find it as useful as I do: text the message “fish <fish name>” to Blue Ocean’s Fishphone (30644) to receive an assessment of whether the filet you’re planning to purchase for dinner is environmentally kosher.

So, for example, when I text “fish cod” to 30644, I immediately get the following response:

Pacific cod (GREEN) few environmental concerns, MSC certified as sustainable; Atlantic cod (RED) significant environmental concerns

Green means go. Red means stay away. MSC indicates that the Marine Stewardship Council has certified the fish as a best environmental choice.

The service is fairly clever. It also issues health warnings and suggests alternatives. For example, when I ask about Chilean sea bass, the response sounds the alarm about illegal fishing and mercury content, and suggests I try striped bass or pacific halibut instead.

Put the number (30644) in your address book now and never worry again about tripping up on your cod.

Update: if you can’t access the SMS service, you can also download and print a fish guide here, or browse a web site designed for mobile devices at http://fishphone.org.

Via Bitten.

Photo available under Creative Commons license from flickr user clairity.

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  1. Lisa - February 20, 2008

    How about just NOT eating fish? That’s a far more environmentally friendly and sustainable practice, with no downside whatsoever. Why make things so complicated? Fish are not a required part of the human diet – you can easily get all the nutrients you need from plant sources, so don’t give me any crap about omega-3s.

  2. gdaudin - February 20, 2008

    Does anyone know if a similar service (or even a website !) exists in Europe ?

  3. Adam Stein - February 20, 2008

    Hi gdaudin —
    I emailed Blue Ocean to find out how to access the service from Europe. I’ll post an update if they write back, but in the meantime, you can download a safe fish guide from their web site:
    And you can also access a special web site they’ve set up for mobile devices:
    One caveat is that fish names vary dramatically by region, so you’ll have to know the (American) english names.

  4. landsnark - February 20, 2008

    This is terrific. Fish is a great food for humans, but I almost never eat it because it’s just too daunting to keep track of what’s in and what’s out. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I can eat sushi again!

  5. Adam Stein - February 20, 2008

    Update: heard back from the fishphone folks. No European SMS service, unfortunately.

  6. Anonymous - February 20, 2008

    I sent a text to 30644 (two as a matter of fact…”fish cod” and “fish salmon”) and did not get a response. I have AT&T wireless. I don’t think it’s a carrier issue. Feedback?

  7. Adam Stein - February 20, 2008

    Hm. None other than “works for me.” I just texted “fish salmon” the service and got a response in seconds.

  8. gdaudin - February 21, 2008

    Thanks Adam !
    The problem is not only with names… Fisheries producing the same fish might not be all at the same sustainability level, and European supply sources are different from the US’s.
    Still, it is a very useful website : thanks again.

  9. Kylle - February 22, 2008

    Thank you for mentioning the Marine Stewardship Council. Our goal is to certify sustainable fisheries and bring an end to overfishing. Choosing not to purchase seafood is a personal decision, but it can unnecessarily punish fishermen who fish in an environmentally sustainable way. We would like responsible fishermen to keep their jobs and for everyone to continue to enjoy seafood for dinner. I just wanted to add that you can find out where to buy MSC-labelled certified sustainable seafood at http://eng.msc.org/html/content_531.htm.
    Kylle, MSC communications team