How to choose fish that is healthy and good for the planet?

Updated on: Jan 14, 2016

It may seem complicated to make a wise choice that can both minimize environmental impact and that brings all the nutritional benefits of fish. Yet it is possible by consulting some useful tools before grocery shopping.

Fish is rich in nutrients such as omega-3 (dietary omega -3) and it brings health benefits. On the other hand, overfishing increasingly empties the world’s oceans and so many types of fish disappear or are about to. Moreover, some fishing and farming techniques have significant environmental impacts. In this context, it is very appropriate to make responsible choices in order to protect aquatic environments.

Also, the accumulation of contaminants in some fish is something that must be considered, especially for the health of pregnant women and young children. It is indeed important to consider the types of fish, whether fresh, frozen or canned, that are safe.

To make the best responsible choices, it is good to ask a fishmonger or to use the tools provided in the “To learn more” section to learn about the origin and fishing techniques. Print and bring these tools at the grocery store to consult them.

Choices that are eco-friendly and low in contaminants:

  • Prawns
  • Herring*
  • Lobster
  • Oysters (farmed)
  • Mackerel *
  • Pacific cod, except Charbonnière cod (United States)
  • Mussels (farmed)
  • Char (Livestock: Canada, USA and Europe) *
  • Clams (breeding)
  • Scallops (breeding)
  • Wild Pacific salmon or farmed in closed systems *
  • Pacific sardines *
  • Tilapia (farmed: Canada, United States and Ecuador)
  • Rainbow trout (farmed in closed systems: USA) *

*Rich in omega-3


  • Choose fish from selective fishing techniques (angling, hook-and-line, trolling or pole-and-line) instead of non-selective techniques (trawling, longlines, gillnets, seines, Danish seines and dredges).
  • Opt for closed system aquaculture instead of open system.
  • Eat small fish such as herring, mackerel and sardines as they are nutritious while only slightly contaminated, they reproduce quickly and are inexpensive.
  • Ask your fishmonger!


Santé et services sociaux du Québec. (2015). Le poisson, l'environnement et la santé.

Santé canada. (2008). Le mercure présent dans le poisson.

Santé canada. (2009). Le poisson et les acides gras oméga-s, lignes directrices sur la nutrition pendant la grossesse à l'intention des professionnels de la santé.


Aquarium du Québec. (2014). Menu bleu marin, un guide de consommation des produits de la mer 2014.

Extenso. (2014). La pêche aux poissons verts.

Fondation David Suzuki. (2014). Les 10 meilleurs choix de produit de la mer de David Suzuki.

Greenpeace. (2013). Classement du thon durable 2013.

Greenpeace. (2010). La liste rouge.

Monterey Bay Aquarium. (2015). Northeast consumer guide.


In collaboration with the Dispensary workers

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