Credit: Hans splinter @Flickr.
Sustainable fishing – what does it truly mean?
If you’re like me, then you’ve been there. You’ve wondered what am I really looking for when it comes to searching for sustainable fish? Where do I start? I’ve been that person staring for hours at a shelf, picking up a pack of fish, putting it back, picking up another, putting it back, not quite knowing what to buy. I usually end up just not buying any fish at all. This doesn’t need to be the case. I’m about to explain first what sustainable fishing means and then what you need to look out for when shopping. Hopefully this will help you a little! Do let me know in the comments if you have any further tips, as i’m also just starting this journey and this is basically what i’ve learnt over the last few weeks!
Sustainable fishing is ensuring that we fish to ensure that we leave enough fish stocks in the ocean and that we don’t destroy their ecosystem in the meantime. So a big no to bottom trawling and long-lining.
Sustainable fishing indicators – what to look out for.
- Look for the blue MSC Certified Label.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) puts this label only on wild fish or fish from fisheries that meet their strict standards. They look out for the fisheries impact on ecosystems and wild fishing populations. Although according to Greenpeace, they don’t endorse it completely as there seems to be some companies who are not completely sustainable who have the label. Tread carefully.
- Avoid fish caught from these methods: Purse seining and long-lining.
These methods are what causes overfishing, which means to fish more than what is needed, at a rate that is more than what the fish can reproduce by. This also means that species of fish or even turtles not meant for consumption, also get caught up in the catch. This is known as a bycatch. Its a very wasteful method that needs to be avoided. Basically any method that is wasteful is unsustainable. Hook and line and spearfishing, for example, are not. They focus on one fish at a time (off to buy a fishing rod…)
- Look for fish that have been line caught.
- Ask the fishmonger where the fish was caught. Be wary if they are unsure.
- Avoid certain fish species such as Atlantic cod, haddock and plaice (see below for a full list).
- Treat fish as a treat and get your omega 3 oils from foods such as flax oil and walnuts instead.
- Don’t take ‘dolphin friendly’ as meaning sustainable.
According to Greenpeace, a ‘dolphin friendly’ label doesn’t mean a lot. The label refers to the equipment used but doesn’t take into consideration other impacts of tuna fishing, such as the bycatch of turtles. The only recommended tuna to eat is skipjack (see below where to buy this).
- Eat more of a variety of fish rather than the usual cod, haddock, prawn etc (see below for a list of fish to try)
Credit: Smabs Sputzer @Flickr.
Fish to avoid
I’m going to try and avoid the following fish, so why not join me? The only exception is if I find that it has been farmed sustainably:
- Atlantic Cod (Although Greenpeace state that M&S, Waitrose and line-caught Icelandic are ok)
- Tuna (Albacore, Bigeye, and bluefin)
- Wild and farmed tropical prawns
- Haddock (line-caught Icelandic is ok)
- European hake
- Atlantic halibut
- Wild and farmed Atlantic salmon
- Sharks (not that I eat this anyway!)
- Skates and rays
You can find a more extensive and detailed list on the Good Food Guide.
Credit: Phil King @Flickr.
Fish to try
The following fish are great ways to add variety into your fish cooking:
- Line- caught mackarel
- line-caught seabass
- Farmed mussels
- Purse seined herring (from the Cornish coast)
- Dab (no, not the trend… it’s a member of the plaice family)
- Oysters (yes, they are ok!!)
Where to shop for sustainable fish
Fish4Ever at Traidcraft: with its ‘catch to can’ traceablility, Fish4Ever are a great ethical (as well as organic) brand to buy from in the UK! They are the only brand in the UK to be doing this. The best thing is that you can trace exactly where your fish was caught by typing in the code on the side of the can. How cool is that!?
Check out the Fish4Ever range so you can buy more sustainable products, such as their delicious Brisling Sardines in spring water. I was lucky enough to be sent some samples of products to try out, which i’ll be talking more abut in the next few days. You’ll find recipes using these products up on my food blog, JessEatsandTravels.
Marks and Spencer’s sell a good amount of sustainable fish, although not all.
Waitrose apparently have a good amount of sustainable fish products on sale.
Local fishmonger – although no guarantee it’s sustainable. The advantage is that you can ask questions.
Will you take on this challenge with me?
PIN ME! PLEASE?