Choose Sustainable Seasonal Seafood on World Ocean's Day

By: Rajina Gurung
Date posted: 8 June 2017

Today it’s World Oceans Day and around the world people are celebrating the ocean. We love the sea for so many reasons, many people rely on it for jobs, for fun, to store carbon, for food and much more. But sometimes we forget that the wild caught fish we eat are actually creatures from wild populations that need careful management if we are all to keep enjoying them. 90% of global fish stocks are either fully or overfished!

Source Fish Responsibly

Ethical buying, including of seafood, has come a long way, and people and businesses are getting to ‘know their fish’ and increasingly looking for seafood that is either sustainably assessed or rated well or certified as such which is great to see. People might not know though that in a similar way to fruit and vegetables, seasonality is also important for seafood.

Wild caught fish live in the sea naturally, and like any wild animal, they need to be allowed to grow to maturity and breed and they do this at different times of the year depending on the species. Seasonality does not apply to farmed seafood as they do not breed and reproduce in the same way as wild caught fish, or frozen or processed fish as you can’t really know when the fish was caught if it’s processed or frozen. But when buying fresh fish, picking them at the right time can be important. By avoiding immature (baby) fish and species that are in their spawning season – including berried crab and lobster - we can allow fish the chance to reproduce and contribute to their population. This can help maintain and increase fish stock levels and also contribute to their value in maintaining jobs and food security.

Local and seasonal fresh fish is often of better quality and tastes great, especially as a light summer dish. Here are some great seasonal fish to eat over the summer months.

June: Coley

Coley belongs to the same family as cod and haddock and is a great sustainable substitute for cod. Also known as saithe, coley used to be a favourite of the nation’s cats before tinned pet food was developed, however top chefs and leading supermarkets have changed all that, championing it as a good alternative to cod. Coley is brilliant in fish pies and cakes and also eaten salted and smoked. Try this easy coley fish & chips recipe by Harry Niazi, owner of MSC certified Fish & Chip shop “Olley’s”.

July: Hake

Hake is closely related to cod but separated by its long slender body. Hake has a mild flavor with a medium but firm textured meat and is best poached with lemon juice. The European hake is found in waters close to home and the most sustainable choice is MSC certified European hake from Cornwall. Try this scrumptious Basque style hake recipe by acclaimed restaurateur, chef and author, Mitch Tonks.

August: Mackerel

Mackerel is full of omega-3 and rumored to improve brain power so an ideal starter fish for kids! Mackerel is a fast swimming sliver and blue striped fish, related to tuna. Mackerel is best eaten fresh and can be grilled smoked or fried. Choose MSC certified handline caught mackerel from South West England. Try this delicious mackerel recipe by celebrity chef Raymond Blanc OBE.

September: Sardines

With the Autumn season setting in September, it’s time to make the most of the final BBQ’s of the summer. Sardines are a BBQ favourite and usually cooked whole on the BBQ or ovenbaked. Rich in omega-3, sardines are an oily fish with a strong flavor. Young pilchards are often referred to as sardines and are named after the Mediterranean island of Sardinia where they once lived in abundance. Choose MSC certified sardines from Cornwall. Try this great grilled sardine recipe by Geetie Singh.

For more tasty seasonal fish recipes, check out the Marine Conservation Society’s Fish of the Month page, on the Good Fish Guide, where you can get recipes each month for fish in season from celebrity chefs including Raymond Blanc, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tom Aikens and more. This World Ocean’s Day, and in the summer months to come, you can use our Good Fish Guide - it’s online, on paper or on mobile app - to help you choose sustainable and seasonal seafood.