The Santa Monica Seafood market is bustling with customers and fishmongers. The store cases are filled with everything from gorgeous fillets of wild salmon and Maine lobsters to fresh crabs and shrimp—about 40 different varieties of fish and shellfish in all. Amber Valletta is in her element. "This is where I buy all my fish," she says, checking out the day's offerings. "They're very careful to sell only environmentally safe types of seafood here." Amber became passionate about eating the right fish after a friend who was trying to get pregnant discovered she had dangerously high levels of mercury in her bloodstream, partly because of eating certain seafood. "Contaminated fish is the main source of mercury poisoning. One in six women develops levels so high, they could cause neurological damage to a developing fetus," she says. "I might want to have another child someday, and that statistic really scared me."
The issue became so important to Amber, three years ago she became a spokeswoman for Oceana, a not-forprofit organization that campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Through her work with the organization, she learned that seafood contamination is not the only problem with our oceans. According to the United Nations, 75 percent of the world's fisheries are either overfished or close to their maximum limits. "It should be a given that we have waters that are not only clean but also protected," says Amber. "By making a few smart choices in terms of the fish we buy, each one of us can make a huge difference in the welfare of our oceans." Oceana's seafood guide campaign partner, the Blue Ocean Institute, has assembled a list of fish and shellfish that are healthy for your body— and the planet. Check out their chart.