Seafood Watch - Seafood Guide

Tilapia

© Monterey Bay Aquarium
SEAFOODRATINGMARKET NAMESLOCATION/CERTIFICATIONHOW CAUGHT/FARMED
Tilapia Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Izumidai U.S. Farmed, Closed Recirculating Systems
Tilapia Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Izumidai China Farmed, Ponds
Tilapia Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Izumidai Ecuador Farmed, Ponds
Tilapia Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Izumidai Taiwan Farmed, Ponds
Tilapia Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Izumidai Alberta, Canada Farmed in Tank Systems
Tilapia Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Izumidai Naturland Certified Farmed


Tilapia, Farmed in Ponds, China

Tilapia farmed in ponds in China is a Seafood Watch "Good Alternative."

Consumer Note

A mild white fish, tilapia is available year-round. It's available whole, fresh, frozen, or even live in some Asian restaurants. It can also be found as fresh or frozen fillets. Tilapia is known as izumidai when prepared for sushi.

Summary

Tilapia is a fast-growing tropical species, native to Africa, but produced in more than 100 nations - surpassing any other farmed fish. It is the fourth most-consumed seafood in the United States after shrimp, tuna and salmon.

China, the world's largest producer of farmed tilapia, supplies approximately 40% of global production. Nearly 40% of this is exported to the U.S., mainly as frozen fillets.

Tilapia can be farmed in either fresh or salt water. They are omnivores, feeding mainly on algae in the wild. Tilapia feed in Chinese farms is low in fishmeal and fish oil, and relies instead on crop-derived ingredients.

Most Chinese tilapia is farmed in ponds. Recent reductions in water use, achieved by only emptying the ponds at the time of each harvest, has also reduced discharge of effluent to the environment. Both of these factors were sufficient to raise this recommendation from its previous "Avoid" to a "Good Alternative."

Chinese farms do discharge the water without relevant treatment, however, and there is evidence that some banned chemicals - including antibiotics and fungal treatments (nitrofurans and malachite green) - are still used in Chinese tilapia production.


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How fish are caught or farmed makes a difference. Fishing boat