Protecting Marine Life As Easy as Cell Phone Texting

     Despite the above title, I have actually never even sent a text message!  I am, to put it politely, “technologically challenged.”  But, fortunately, most visitors to are not so impaired.  And this piece is for you!

     As you probably know, there are several environmental concerns related to the catching and consuming of fish. 

     Many fish species have been overfished, and so their long-term viability is threatened.  In addition, some commercial fishing methods cause undue harm because other marine animals, which may be endangered, are unintentionally swept into the catch.   

     When it comes to consuming fish, there may also be health concerns.  Certain kinds of fish have absorbed a great deal of mercury or PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls)s, making them a health hazard to humans who eat them.

     But despite these environmental and health concerns, many types of fish are fine to eat, from both an environmental and a human  health standpoint.  These fish are not harvested in numbers large enough to threaten their long-term viability, nor does their capture endanger other species.  And these fish have not ingested enough mercury or PCBs to pose a threat to human health.

     But how is a fish lover to know which kinds of fish are okay to eat, and which are not, for either environmental or health reasons?

     So here’s the good news.  And it’s easy.  The next time you’re at the fish counter in the grocery store or opening your menu in a restaurant, and you want to select a fish that’s good for the planet and for you, here’s what to do.  Just reach for your cell phone, and type in 30644 with the message FISH and the name of the fish you are considering. 

     You will receive a text message in return from the Blue Ocean Institute, telling you the environmental and health information you need to know to decide whether the fish in question is a wise choice.  If, unfortunately,  the particular fish poses significant environmental concerns, you will receive the names of some fish that are better alternatives.

     This service from the Blue Ocean Institute is known as Fishphone, and its purpose is to steer consumer demand toward sustainability.

     If you would like to learn more about the environmental and health implications of some of your favorite fish, just visit  There, the Blue Ocean Institute has posted consumer-friendly write-ups on more than 90 commonly consumed species.  They are ranked according to life history, abundance in the wild, habitat concerns, and catch methods.

     To make the seafood guide especially easy to use, each listed fish is accompanied by a fish logo of a particular color.  Bright green, for example, means the fish is abundant and that fishing methods do not harm wildlife or damage habitat.  There are three more colors, with their accompanying meanings, on the way to red, which indicates serious environmental problems. 

     For certain fish, the logo is pierced by a red flag, warning that consumption of this fish poses health hazards to humans and should be avoided.

     So the next time you’re buying fish for cooking or ordering it in a restaurant, all you need is your cell phone.  Oh, and don’t forget to note the number 30644 and the word ‘FISH.’–April Moore


3 Responses to “Protecting Marine Life As Easy as Cell Phone Texting”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    I’m going to program it into my cell phone right now!

  2. Tanya Says:

    I’m way too technologically challenged to text in a restaurant but I did add the site to my Favorites and when I checked the list, I was surprised. Lobsters are plentiful while other species, such as Atlantic salmon are not. Thanks!

  3. Joan Brundage Says:

    Thanks, April. I eat a lot of fish so this is very useful info. The fish I eat is line caught.

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