New Report Recommends Eating Great Lakes Fish

February 3, 2015

Shedd Aquarium Updates Right Bite Recommendations with Local Seafood Options

CHICAGO – Furthering its commitment to protecting and preserving the Great Lakes, Shedd Aquarium commissioned a report to assess the sustainability of Great Lakes fisheries. Leveraging tools from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, research partners at the University of Michigan studied five fish species in the Great Lakes waterways, finding that most support culinary conservation.  

Shedd’s Right Bite program is the leading sustainable seafood initiative in the Midwest, working with individuals, families, culinary professionals and researchers to increase the availability of sustainable seafood in Chicago’s marketplace. The study resulted in the following Right Bite consumer recommendations:

“The Great Lakes region has an intimate connection with water and the fishes that live in it, but unfortunately we also have a legacy of overfishing and the subsequent deterioration of the ecosystems,” said Phil Willink, senior research biologist at Shedd. “As we look to the future, everyone can do their part to protect our shared natural resources which can be as simple as choosing which fishes should or should not be eaten, because these choices have a direct impact on the Great Lakes and its aquatic biodiversity.”

The study used Seafood Watch’s external assessment model to determine each individual species’ sustainability rating based on location, population size, rehabilitation efforts and local harvesting rates and practices throughout the basin. Researchers learned that as a whole, the majority of individual populations studied are well-managed and fished responsibly, resulting in a recommendation from Shedd.   

“These findings support a simple and gratifying message for those of us who take pride in our region– eat Great Lakes fishes,” said Aislinn Gauchay, Great Lakes and sustainability programs manager for the Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research at Shedd Aquarium. “With this report and through our Right Bite program, Shedd can help educate consumers connected to the Great Lakes basin that to enjoy seafood responsibly, they need look no further than their own backyard.”

Launched in 2005, Shedd Aquarium’s Right Bite program aims to address issues of overfishing and aquatic health. Since then, Shedd partnered with various restaurants through the Right Bite program to help make an impact, while also empowering consumers to identify and purchase sustainable seafood options.

For more information about Shedd’s Great Lakes conservation initiative, visit

NOTE: High resolution photos are available for download:

Photo and video credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

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Shedd Aquarium is supported by the people of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the Chicago Park District. Shedd Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

The Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research at John G. Shedd Aquarium

is committed to conserving species and ecosystems through research that advances understanding, informs policy and enhances livelihoodsas responsible stewards of the animals in our care.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that's fished or farmed in ways that protect sea life and habitats, now and for future generations. Seafood Watch recommendations indicate which seafood items are "Best Choices" or "Good Alternatives," and other to "Avoid."

Since 1999, Seafood Watch has distributed more than 51 million consumer guides, and a free mobile app that has been downloaded more than a million times. Its business program encourages restaurants, distributors and seafood purveyors to purchase from sustainable sources. More than 1,000 businesses across North America rely on Seafood Watch science to guide their seafood purchases – including two of the largest food service companies on the continent.

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