Buying sustainable fish

CJ Jackson, principal of the Seafood School at Billingsgate in London, explains how to make sustainable choices when it comes to buying fish.


1. Buy in season

  • Buy locally sourced if possible.
  • Choose different fish, not just your usual favourites.
  • Trust your fishmonger – they should have all the knowledge about their product and be able to give information about the seafood they are selling.

View our seasonal guides

2. Stay informed

The Marine Conservation Society uses scientific research to gather information. Their excellent yearly Good Fish Guide traffic light system helps the consumer make sustainable seasonal choices. The website is much more detailed and one to keep an eye on each time you shop.

3. 'Go ahead' choices

European hake (landed in Cornwall and Scotland) is an excellent alternative to cod and haddock. Coley is related to cod, but less expensive. Mackerel (look for hand-line caught from the South West). Good-to-eat shellfish include mussels and cold water prawns.

A blue casserole with a hake stew in it

4. MSC

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) will certify seafood stocks considered to be fished at sustainable levels. These are updated regularly. Many species have the familiar blue tick logo. If you can’t see these, ask the fishmonger – small fisheries can’t necessarily afford the certification but do fish in a responsible way.

5. Farmed fish

Currently more than 50% of the seafood we consume is farmed. To enjoy seafood into the future, aquaculture has an important role to play. Many concerns about farmed practices have been addressed in some areas including the use of antibiotics, feeds and stocking density. There are over 30 different certification standards promoted by retailers, including Fairtrade, Ethical Trading Initiative and RSPCA Assured.

6. G.A.P

GlobalG.A.P. is an organisation that certifies standards in aquaculture, as well as crops and livestock, and can be seen in some of the major retailers.

7. Fishing for litter

Many fishermen are concerned about waste, litter, improving their fishing gear and other important environmental issues. New initiatives include recycling fishing equipment and sending it to third world countries for re-use. ‘Fishing for Litter’ is a scheme where fishermen are given large bags to gather debris collected in nets during fishing. They are also improving gear efficiency to lessen by-catch (unwanted species) and minimise damage to the seabed. Trials are on-going.

8. Seafish UK

Sea Fish UK are the authority advising across the industry from sea to plate. They cover everything from promoting the consumption of seafood, to improving the health of the consumer and ensuring fishermen are safe at sea.


Check out our best fish recipes...

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