MIT Sea Grant Center for Coastal Resources

Live and Fresh Seafood: Into the pan, not into the wild

Download a copy of our new pamphlet Live and Fresh Seafood: Into the pan, not into the wild!



Which language?

ENGLISH [pdf, 216K]

CHINESE [pdf, 468K]

KHMER [pdf, 397K]

KOREAN [pdf, 479K]

SPANISH [pdf, 316KB]

VIETNAMESE [pdf, 349K]

Note: You will need Adobe Reader to open these documents.



The MIT Sea Grant College Program has developed an educational pamphlet to encourage people not to release or dump live and fresh seafood and seafood waste into the wild. The pamphlet, Live and Fresh Seafood: Into the Pan, Not into the Wild, is part of an outreach campaign to teach people what they can do to prevent the introduction of marine and freshwater invasive seafood, such as finfish, crabs, oysters, clams, turtles, algae, and any animals or plants that may travel on seafood and seafood products (hitchhikers).

Invasive species are animals and plants that are introduced to new ecosystems where they thrive, causing economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health. It is estimated that the United States spends $120 billion each year managing introduced species in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments. Invasive species are a problem worldwide. South American apple snails have been introduced into south-east Asia where they threaten rice and taro crops. Louisiana crayfish have colonized parts of Ecuador, Asia, Europe and Kenya where they devour local vegetation and small fish. They also burrow into the sediment, causing damage to dams. Water hyacinth, originally from South America introduced to North America, Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa, is an aggressive aquatic weed which clogs waterways, shading other aquatic plants and animals from sunlight.

Species are introduced into new environments via many pathways. Invasive species can travel in ship ballast water or on the hulls of ships and boats. They can also escape from aquaculture facilities or be inadvertently released during transport. In addition, invasive species are often introduced by aquarium owners who dump unwanted fish and plants into the wild. One pathway that is currently receiving much attention is the intentional and accidental release of live seafood, both freshwater and marine species, by seafood handlers and consumers. The northern snakehead fish and the Chinese mitten crab are two examples of seafood that were released or dumped and are currently invading parts of the United States.

Invasive species and their hitchhikers can spread diseases and parasites to other species in their new environment, devastating ecosystems. In addition, species such as the northern snakehead eat and compete with native plants and animals, which may be important food sources. Environmental damage such as erosion and flooding results from invasive species such as the Chinese mitten crab. Other species, such as most shellfish species, may spread human diseases such as cholera. Each of us can take responsibility for our actions and prevent accidental or intentional live seafood introductions.

How can you prevent the introduction of invasive seafood?

  • Seafood should always be eaten, never released into the wild. Released seafood could become invasive, carrying with it diseases, parasites, and other hitchhikers.
  • Always put seafood waste in the trash. Fish heads, fish scales, guts, and shells can carry diseases, parasites, and other hitchhikers.
  • Be extra careful with non-native seafood. Releasing non-native seafood can be more harmful than releasing native seafood. Non-native seafood may harbor foreign diseases.

It is illegal to release any non-native fish or turtle into the wild. If caught, you could be fined or sent to jail.


Live and Fresh Seafood: Into the pan, not into the wild was designed to raise awareness on proper handling and disposal of live seafood and seafood waste. It also draws attention to types of seafood that are illegal to possess in the United States, such as the northern snakehead, walking catfish, and Chinese mitten crab. The pamphlet is available in Chinese, English, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. To obtain free copies or for more information email, call 617-253-7092, or contact us.

This project has been made possible with a grant from NOAA’s National Sea Grant Program.


For more information on invasive seafood visit:


Fact sheets on non-native seafood species:

We have prepared fact sheets providing information on many of the finfish species that we have found in markets across the northeastern United States. Included are both native species such as the yellow bullhead catfish, and introduced species such as the snakehead. Follow the links below for information and pictures of some of the more important seafood species in this area.

More coming soon...

For more information on invasive species visit:


Total hits since 5/9/06: several


Translate this site into: Chinese, Korean, Spanish
(Translation performed by Google Language Tools. The MIT Sea Grant Program is not responsible for the accuracy of these translations. Khmer and Vietnamese translations are not currently available.)



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  this page last updated on: 10 July, 2006