Bream on Ice

Top Ten Tips For Buying Seafood

Sustainability is becoming hugely important for consumers who are looking to purchase seafood with a clear conscience - but why should you care? Actually, you have power to make a real difference. As a consumer, you can drive the market for sustainable seafood, by choosing fish only from healthy, responsibly-managed sources, and 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.

1. Be better informed

Keep visiting the MCS website and 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!

2. Check our detailed sustainability ratings

Our Good Fish Guide is for anyone interested in sustainable seafood. It has over 650 ratings and sustainability information for over 150 species most commonly traded in the UK.

3. Carry an MCS pocket guide or download the app - FREE!

Carry an MCS pocket guide or download the smartphone app to remind you of these ratings while you’re out and about, or use it for writing your shopping list. These handy guides list the best choices you can make when buying seafood. Both available from here.

4. Spread the word

Tell your family and friends all about the importance of choosing sustainable seafood and point them in the direction of the MCS website to find out more!

5. 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). One of the easiest ways to buy more sustainable seafood is to choose alternative species that have not been overfished. Choose coley or gurnard instead of cod, or why not try MSC certified mackerel instead of tuna.

6. Choose fish caught using methods with lower environmental impact

Choose fish caught using methods with lower environmental impact such as hand lining or potting. When buying tuna, for example, try to buy pole & line or hand-line or troll caught fish as these methods generally have less impact on other species. More info about how fish are caught and farmed..

7. Look at labelling

Retailers and brands 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 the fishmonger/waiter for more information, specifically 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!

Fish Labelling

8. 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.

9. Choose Organic

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.

10. 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. See green rated fish on the Good Fish Guide.

Actions you can take

  1. Download our award winning 'Good Fish Guide App'.
  2. Download the Good Fish Guide .pdf
  3. View the Good Fish Guide online

Did you know?…

MCS launched the Good Fish Guide in 2001 to help people make good seafood choices

The ocean sustains livelihoods and provides food for millions of people

41% of North East Atlantic stocks including those around the UK are subject to overfishing