8 Tips for Buying More Sustainable Fish

Today, June 8th, is World Oceans Day – a good day to think about what we can do to halt the devastating collapse in world fish stocks.

1              Educate Yourself

Improve your understanding of the over-exploitation of the world’s fish stocks, and what must be done to prevent their collapse. Selfridge’s is working with the WWF, Greenpeace and others to champion Project Ocean, which aims to raise awareness of the threat to world fish populations. Watch the film End of the Line and read the accompanying book. Stare at naked celebrities. Look at an infographic of the extent of the decline. Read why Stephen Fry, Richard Branson, Jeremy Paxman and others are supporting Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal’s Fish Fight against EU rules.

2              Consult a Sustainability Guide Before you Buy

Not all fish species are currently under threat. Consult one of the variety of available guides to see whether a particular fish and source is considered sustainable or endangered. Guides include Channel 4′s Fish Inspiration or The Marine Conservation Council’s Good Fish Guide.

3              Look For the MSC’s Certification Mark

The MSC’s certification mark shows the fish is sourced from a sustainable and well-managed fishery, with transparent chain of custody to ensure traceability. Watch the MSC’s explanatory video.

4              Ask Where and How the Fish was Caught

Ask your retailer where the fish is from, and whether it is sustainable. Several UK supermarkets have sustainable aquaculture policies in place, Greenpeace currently consider Waitrose, M&S and the Co-Op the best (Greenpeace report).

5              Avoid At Risk Species

Species under pressure include swordfishsharkskatesplaicetuna (except skipjack), monkfish and marlin.

6              Be Careful with Popular Fish

Salmon, cod and tinned tuna are the most popular fish in the UK, and due to their popularity they are under particular threat and we need to choose carefully.

7              Be Careful with Farmed Fish

Several commentators, including Greenpeace, have some concerns regarding intensive farming of a variety of fish species, due to the use of fish meal foodstuffs, disease and pollution issues. Increasingly herbivorous fish such as tilapia are farmed in the UK, which do not require fish based feedstuffs, and are generally considered to be more sustainable.

8              Be More Adventurous with Fish

There are over 50 species of fish caught within UK waters, most of which are not considered under threat, such as herring, pollock, gurnard, coley and especially mackerel.

Photo by Fiona Wilkinson