Celebrate Sustainable Seafood During National Fishing Month

Posted on 26 Jul 2016 by Anna Scott
Last Friday saw the beginning of National Fishing Month, and if you’re not that interested in fishing, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this celebration might not affect you too much. However, if you’ve ever enjoyed a plate of Friday night fish and chips, a seafood risotto or even a prawn cocktail, then fishing will always be relevant. This issue of sustainable fish and seafood is an important one, but even if eating ethically is important to you, it’s often difficult to know where to begin when looking for more sustainable options.

You might initially wonder why buying and eating sustainable seafood is important. With many fish stocks in decline, it’s not just fish for our personal consumption that will be affected, but whole species and habitats. The combination of over-fishing, pollution and climate change is seriously depleting world supply, but The Good Fish Guide provides important information on how to shop more sustainably and ethically to help slow down this development. We’ve put together a guide on what to look out for when shopping for some of your favourite fish and seafood so you too can keep flying the sustainable flag…



Cod Portion Skin OnOne of the country’s most popular fish, you might think that these days buying cod is a definite no-no, sustainability-wise. However, that’s not necessarily the case, but you need to take a close look at what you’re putting in your trolley. According to The Good Fish Guide, most stocks from the North-East Atlantic are overfished, inefficiently managed and or are at an unknown level. The exceptions to this are cod stocks from some selected North East Arctic areas, Iceland and the Eastern Baltic, as well as other smaller areas that have been certified sustainable. If you can’t find out exactly where your cod has come from and don’t want to risk buying from unsustainable stocks, then it’s probably best to only shop for line-caught cod where available, and look out for cod that is caught using ‘seabird friendly’ methods.



Haddock FilletsOften chosen as a sustainable alternative to cod, it’s also important to take a closer look at where your haddock fillets come from. Haddocks from selected areas in the North Sea and Iceland are sustainable and well-managed, but it’s important to note that much haddock is in mixed fisheries with depleted cod stocks. When taking this into account, you might want to avoid haddock from the Irish Sea and west of Scotland.  As with cod, it’s advisable to shop for line-caught haddock where available and also avoid eating immature stock (below 30cm in length) and during their main breeding season in March and April.



Pickled MusselsThis is a great option for those looking for sustainable seafood as whether you’re buying farmed mussels or those grown on ropes or gathered by hand, the cultivation of this type of seafood has a very low environmental impact. Farming mussels requires no chemicals or feed input and requires high water quality, making them an excellent choice.


Cold Water or Northern Prawns

Prawns In Brine 1.5 KgThese are the smaller variety that are usually used in prawn cocktails and are generally more sustainable than tiger or king prawn varieties. The more sustainable prawns are ones taken in by fisheries that use sorting grids such as the Norwegian NE Arctic cold water prawn fishery. Several other Canadian fisheries also use sustainable practices, but if in doubt, look out for a blue tick on the packaging.


Farmed Atlantic Salmon

Salmon Steaks Bone InThere are many different types of salmon available, but this is the one you will probably see on your supermarket shelves. It is advisable to avoid wild Atlantic salmon because most stock levels are severely depleted, although this isn’t always the case. Because of their migration habits it’s difficult to effectively managed wild salmon stocks, but it’s advised you shop for wild salmon that has been caught is rivers at full reproductive capacity (you check which ones fall into this category with the Environment Agency). Of course, farmed Atlantic salmon is widely available, but there are still environmental concerns associated with this method so it is best to buy organically certified farmed salmon, or salmon that has been certified by RSPCA Freedom Foods.



Smoked Mackerel FilletBased on the most recent scientific study (September 2015), it was announced that the combined North East Atlantic mackerel stock is at full reproductive capacity, but current fishing levels are too high and if they carry on at this rate is will be impossible to maintain this sustainability. To make sure you’re buying only sustainable mackerel, shop for fish that was caught locally using traditional methods including hand lines, ring nets and drift nets.




As with many different types of food, being an ethical shopper requires taking a bit more time out to read labels and do your research. Buying certain foods online can remedy this somewhat, with more producer and source information available at the point of sale. For everyday groceries you can use Waitrose promo codes and Sainsburys discount codes to help you carefully select what you buy as well as save money on your shop. And for meat and fish supplies with greater provenance, use online tools such as Campbells Meat promotional codes to save with a supplier that only sells fish from accredited sustainable stocks.




























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