As professional chefs we all have the power to make a real difference by only sourcing fish and seafood from healthy, responsibly-managed sources that are caught or farmed in ways which minimise damage to the marine environment. Here are some top tips from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the UK Charity for seas, shores and wildlife, to help you make the right sustainable choice when buying seafood.
Be better informed
Learn all you can about the issues facing our seas and oceans and how you can make a difference. Find out where your seafood comes from and why making the right choice is good for you, our seas and our fish.
Variety is the spice of life
This is especially true when it comes to eating seafood. As consumers we are too reliant on the “Big 5” (Cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns). There are many great alternatives, like hake or coley instead of cod and haddock, rainbow trout instead of salmon, and herring or sardines instead of tuna – great options to get your fix of omega 3.
Source fish caught using methods with a lower environmental impact
Buy seafood caught in a more environmentally friendly way – hand line, pole and line, pot or trap or dive caught – or from fisheries using best practices to reduce discards and habitat impacts. These methods generally have less impact on other species.
Look at labelling
Suppliers are required by EU law to state the species of fish, production method (wild caught/farmed), capture area and capture method for unprocessed seafood products. If the labelling information is insufficient for you to make an informed choice, ask where the fish is caught and how. If a generic term is used for name of fish e.g. “skate” or “tuna” ask what species it is. If you can’t get the information you need to make an informed choice, give it a miss!
Look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo
Seafood displaying this mark can be found in the frozen and fresh counter sections of your retailer, and are becoming increasingly popular in restaurants. They indicate the seafood in the product has come from well managed fisheries and is fully traceable.
Organically farmed seafood comes from farms with lower stocking densities, high standards of environmental performance and are fed with feed sourced in a sustainable manner.
Avoid red rated seafood
Red rated seafood (rated 5 on the Good Fish Guide) represents seafood from the most unsustainable fisheries and fish farming methods. It includes endangered species like European eel and wild northeast Atlantic Halibut and also seafood from damaging fishing and farming methods that need substantial improvement. Thankfully, there are many certified sustainable and MCS green rated (Best Choice) alternatives to these.