The unlikely partnership is all about sustainability.
Credit: David Zentz/Getty Images

Here’s a partnership that might leave you doing a double take: Red Lobster, one of America’s largest and best-known seafood brands, is teaming up with California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium. But despite being the kind of headline that can lead to plenty of late night talk show jokes, as you might expect, there’s nothing nefarious going on here. Quite the opposite actually: The restaurant chain will specifically be working with the public aquarium’s Seafood Watch program which focuses on promoting sustainable fishing.

Red Lobster, which says it’s the world’s largest seafood buying restaurant, plans to use scientific data and educational tools from Seafood Watch not only to improve its own sourcing decisions but also to educate diners about the impact of their seafood choices. “Because of our size and scale, we can use our influence to drive positive change in the industry and lead the way in sustainable and responsible seafood sourcing,” Kim Lopdrup, Red Lobster’s CEO, said in a statement. “Red Lobster is committed to taking a leadership position in conserving and protecting every kind of seafood we source. Our partnership with Seafood Watch is the natural next step in keeping our commitments and driving continuous improvement within our seafood supply chain.”

Though Red Lobster is clearly one of the biggest fish in the seafood-serving pond, Seafood Watch already has a massive sustainability reach. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the program has 379 direct business partners including grocery stores and food management companies beyond restaurants. Additionally, over 1,000 businesses use the organization’s science to inform buying decisions. Still, with its more than 700 locations, Red Lobster will significantly increase the number of Seafood Watch restaurant partners which currently stands at only about 200 locations.

“We applaud Red Lobster for its commitment,” said Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “It sends a strong signal to the marketplace: Fishing fleets and aquaculture producers will be rewarded for adopting practices that support healthy ocean ecosystems. Ultimately, that will mean better choices for everyone who enjoys seafood.”

Like many food brands, Red Lobster has recently taken a major interest in sustainability. The brand just launched its new “Seafood with Standards” program in January of this year, with the slogan, “Traceable. Sustainable. Responsible.” Now if only they'd tell us the location of that Cheddar Bay where the biscuits come from.