The nonprofit organization Food & Water Watch has created a list of the “Dirty Dozen” of fish to avoid. They analyzed how the fish were farmed or harvested, the levels of toxic contaminants found in the species, and how heavily the local fisherman rely on the species for their economic well-being. The list includes also includes suggestions on species to consume instead. But it can be difficult to make the switch, especially if you’ve never cooked that fish before. So to help you out, I’ve found recipes to make the switch easy, healthy, and delicious!


Avoid: Imported Catfish

Why: The majority of imported catfish come from Vietnam, which has widespread use of antibiotics that are banned in the United States.

Eat: Asian carp, a highly invasive species that is threatening the ecosystem of the Great Lakes.

HowCarp Tacos – Carp tastes like a cross between scallops and crabmeat, and can be cooked in a variety of ways. By shredding the fish, you can easily remove the bones and mud vein, leaving only the soft white flesh. Add some taco seasonings, fresh salsa, and other toppings and have a fun, sustainable dinner.


Avoid: Atlantic Cod

Why: Years of mismanagement by the National Marine Fisheries Service caused Atlantic cod stocks to collapse in the mid-90s, and are now listed just one step above endangered.

Eat: Pacific Cod, whose stocks are still quite strong.

HowCrispy Fish and Chips – This recipe, by Prevention.com, lists tilapia as the fish of choice. But fish n’ chips are traditionally made with cod, so sub that on in. Worried about the “chips” portion? Don’t be – the recipe calls for sweet potatoes, lightly seasoned and oven-roasted.


Avoid: Shark

Why: Due to their placement on the food chain, these predators are extremely high in mercury. Plus, reducing the shark population benefits the species they hunt, such as jellyfish and cownose rays – two species that we don’t want to undergo a population boom.

Eat: Pacific halibut, whose population is holding strong.

HowThyme and Sesame Crusted Pacific Halibut – No added fat, plenty of seasonings, and only 225 calories per serving. Pair it with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes for a hearty, healthy, filling meal.


To learn more about the “Dirty Dozen” of fish to avoid, visit Prevention.com. Also, when buying fish, be sure to consult one of the Seafood Watch Pocket Guides, provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Image Credit: Jay Galvin