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Note: This article is from Conservation Magazine, the precursor to Anthropocene Magazine. The full 14-year Conservation Magazine archive is now available here.

RU Shopping 4 Fish?

July 31, 2008

By Justin Matlick

Tired of standing at the fish counter, wondering whether it’s more sustainable to eat salmon or swordfish? A new text-messaging service promises to deliver an answer and, in turn, direct more buying power toward ecofriendly seafoods.

Dubbed “Fishphone” and developed by the Blue Ocean Institute, the free service offers evaluations of more than 90 species, helping consumers know which seafoods are associated with overfishing, habitat loss, or other problems.

Using the service is easy. Consumers type the word “fish” and the name of a species into a text message, then send it to the number 30644. Fishphone fires back a response, using a color-coded system to indicate whether buying the species is ecofriendly. A “red” label means it carries significant environmental or health concerns, while green signals a safe buy.

It’s the first step in Blue Ocean’s broader initiative to deliver information to environmentally conscious consumers. Dane Klinger, who helped develop Fishphone, said the institute is now developing other high-tech tools with the goal of funneling more dollars toward the sustainable seafood industry. Klinger hopes the effort will also spur a dialogue between consumers and food merchants, perhaps convincing them to stop carrying products that harm the sea.

“We’re hoping it will lead to a more active conversation about not just particular species but sustainability in general,” Klinger said.

Photo: ©Natalia Bratslavsky /

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