The Marine Conservation Society has updated its Good Fish Guide to show which seafood should be avoided to help protect the ocean and how we can make sustainable choices.
Different types of fish and shellfish, covering more than 120 different species, have been rated using a traffic light system, with green showing Best Choice options and red, Fish to Avoid.
Best Choice seafood has the lowest impact on our seas and is more sustainable, while the red list includes those that cause the most environmental damage or have dangerously low populations.
This year, English farmed scallops and English Channel sprat (also known as whitebait) have been added to the Best Choice list, joining hake, hand-dived scallops, Icelandic coley, and plaice caught in various locations around the English coast.
Hand-diving is a sustainable option because it does not result in the bycatch of other species and has little impact on the seafloor. Farmed scallops are also a low-impact option because they don’t require any food or inputs such as antibiotics, so no harmful chemicals end up in the sea, while farmed, rope-grown mussels actually benefit UK seas by filtering out impurities.
This year’s additions to The Good Fish Guide’s Fish to Avoid list (nine in total) include some American lobster – because fishing methods endanger the critically endangered Northern right whale, which can become entangled in lobster pot ropes – and UK squid, whose numbers have dropped in many areas.
However, 20 ratings did improve in the latest update, showing that where good management exists, it is possible to make improvements.
The Good Fish Guide also promotes some sustainable alternatives to the most popular seafood in the UK. Only five species account for 80 percent of all seafood consumed – cod, haddock, salmon, tuna, and prawns. Recipes that call for cod or haddock could be substituted with hake, a meaty white fish caught in the UK with impressive sustainability credentials.
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