Project #85209 - Exploration Activity 4 - How do we measure the sustainability of fisheries?

When you finish this activity you should be able to:

  • Identify the factors that are important in determining the viability of a marine fishery.
  • Evaluate 2 marine fisheries - one that is sustainable and one that is not.
  • Explain why the "health" of a fishery is driven by consumer demand.
  • Justify why some marine fisheries should be more strictly managed.

What you will turn in:

  • Document upload to this assignment - Word file or Google Doc. This file upload should have your answers to the questions you encounter throughout the activity. Click HERE to download a word template of the assignment - type your answers in: EA 4 Assignment TemplatePreview the documentView in a new window
  • Exploration Discussion 4 will be available after completion of this activity.


In Lesson 6 you learned about the issues that affect marine fisheries around the world. Unfortunately, many fisheries are in dire condition due to overwhelming demands and inappropriate harvest techniques, which drives overfishing.  Sadly, many types of marine fish and invertebrates that were once extremely abundant are now suffering the consequences of an ‘unchecked’ harvest.  

The collapse of many important fisheries around the world has driven a movement towards “sustainable fisheries” practices.  This is great, BUT how do we know which fisheries are sustainable?!  What are the most important factors to consider?  Our goal today is to explore the Seafood Watch program that was developed nearly two-decades ago at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA).

Are you familiar with this quote?

"Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

My hope is that by the end of this activity each of us will be capable of interpreting this famous quote in a new light.

Question 1. Before you begin... In 1-2 sentences, how would you define the term “sustainable” (in reference to a natural resource)? 


Need help getting started (especially with Part 2) watch this screencast and see if helps... if not, send me a message! (Links to an external site.)


Part 1 - Can the oceans keep up with the hunt? TED-Ed Lesson

Your study of fisheries sustainability will start with a custom TED-Ed Lesson.  Note that you will be prompted to create a free account with or enter your login information if you already have an account.

This activity is designed around a 20-minute film Can the Oceans Keep Up With the Hunt? There are three stages of the activity: "Watch, Discuss & ...And Finally":

If you are ready to start click here to enter TED-Ed: (Links to an external site.)


Part 2 - Rate Your Plate

For this part of the activity it will be important to recall that a fishery is "the organized harvest of a particular species of marine organism for either commercial or recreational use."  When we discuss a fishery we should always try to include three pieces of information: (1) what species is it, (2) where was it harvested from and (3) what fishing or farming technique was used to harvest it.  For example, we may be interested in “wild-caught Alaskan Salmon” as opposed to “farmed Atlantic Salmon”.  These are two VERY different fisheries… one with some very harmful effects and the other is quite healthy for us and the environment!

Today, YOU will be the fisheries analyst for the MBA Seafood Watch Program and evaluate reports to determine if a particular fishery should be considered “sustainable”, avoided all together or is its status somewhere in between.

Question 2.  Before you begin… review the 5 criteria that the Monterey Bay Aquarium fisheries analysts use to assess fishery health.  Of these 5 criteria, which is the ONLY that is not controlled by human actions?

You can also download the image below as a pdf file here: Rate Your Plate Criteria .pdfPreview the documentView in a new window

8 Rate_Your_Plate_Score card_Page_2.jpg

You may also find it helpful to explore (Links to an external site.) to learn about the impacts of different types of fishing and farming.  This site will have a wealth of useful information that can help you through this activity and provide inspiration for the EA 4 discussion assignment that follows this one.

Now that you are familiar with the criteria that you will use to analyze a fishery, you are ready to start “Rating Your Plate”.


  1. Using the Seafood Watch "Recommended Seafood Choices" choose a fishery that is on the “Avoid” list. The recommended choices are available in a number of formats. Click the link to locate these.
  2. Locate the Species Report for that fishery. You can choose from the pdf files I provided on the Species Report page or search for your own online (instructions provided in the Species Report link)
  3. Using the species report table of contents as a guide, skim the report for the information you need to complete the scorecard (see below for an example of how to complete the scorecard). Download the PDF files here: Rate Your Plate Scorecard.pdfPreview the documentView in a new window
  4. Complete the scorecard sheet for your "Avoid" list fishery.
  5. Compare the results of your rating to that of the Seafood Watch recommendation - Did your evaluation result in the same "listing" as the real seafood recommendation list?
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for a fishery that is on the “Best Choice” list.




When you have completed all the questions in the assignment template upload it AND your TWO scorecards to this assignment and submit it - you are done and will be ready to move on to the associated discussion for this week where you will discuss and reflect on what you learned about fisheries!

Subject Science
Due By (Pacific Time) 10/07/2015 09:30 pm
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