Stories / Impact

Celebrate Sustainable Seafood All Year Long

How we're working with chefs and suppliers to improve the health of our oceans

Sarah Drew

October 21, 2019


Oysters photo by Jeff Gurwin
Photo: Jeff Gurwin

James Beard Foundation Impact programs manager Sarah Drew shares how we're celebrating National Seafood month, and how your choices at restaurants and the grocery store can support better ocean health and more sustainable seafood options all year long.


We hope that you’ve enjoyed October as much as we have here at the James Beard Foundation. To celebrate National Seafood month, we hosted a dinner at the James Beard House featuring chefs Barton Seaver, Ned Bell, and Danielle Leoni. We launched a new set of webinars focused on encouraging chefs to stop serving bluefin tuna and consider the differences between wild, farmed, and frozen seafood options available. We also added dozens of chefs and restaurants to our Smart Catch program.

We are especially excited to announce that our Smart Catch program is now working directly with seafood suppliers around the country, to promote the use of more diverse, traceable, sustainable, and delicious seafood options.

More than 700 restaurants are currently enrolled in our Smart Catch program and working every day to make more sustainable choices when creating dishes. Where they can, chefs are turning to local fishermen and cooperatives to reduce the miles seafood has to travel. Chefs near the Chesapeake Bay, including Smart Catch Leader Jason Congleton of the Virginia Aquarium, are involved in efforts to serve as much invasive blue catfish as possible.

Chefs are also reimagining traditional seafood recipes through the use of less familiar and invasive species. At our Taste America Louisville dinner, all-star chef Sara Bradley utilized an invasive carp found in Kentucky for her silver carp and paddlefish caviar dish.

But not every chef has the time, education, or relationships to find these items—so they turn to their trusted suppliers. Suppliers provide the data, knowledge, and alternatives needed for a restaurant to successfully meet their sustainability goals.

We are pleased to collaborate with this initial group of national and regional seafood suppliers to expand our Smart Catch program:

Our work with suppliers will help chefs with their sustainability efforts, such as Jay Huang at Lucky Robot Japanese Kitchen, the first sustainable sushi restaurant in Austin, who is currently promoting alternatives to tuna for the restaurant’s #TimeOutForTuna campaign. Suppliers can help chef Mike Nelson of GW Fins in New Orleans find a consistent supply of offcuts such as fish collars for the restaurant’s signature “wings.”

In addition to keeping chefs stocked with delicious and sustainable options, suppliers can also help improve the global seafood supply chain by asking for more consistent information about catch method, species, and other data that helps scientists track and improve fish stocks around the world. Suppliers are at the heart of large-scale efforts to protect and improve our global fisheries.

It’s been a great month, but our oceans need attention 12 months out of the year. We must all work together to make different choices when it comes to buying, cooking, and serving seafood, every day. We hope you’ll take the time to learn more about sustainable seafood options, try a new fish when you see it on a menu, and look for restaurants in your community that are part of the Smart Catch program.

Want to learn more? Check out our blogposts here, here, and here.

Are you a supplier who wants to get involved? Share your info here.

Last but not least, we would love for you to sign up for our Smart Catch newsletter.


Sarah Drew is Impact Programs manager at the James Beard Foundation. Follow her on Instagram @sarah_e_drew.