Are you a fiend for cuisine of the aquatic persuasion? Do you like nothing more than diving into a dish with gills?
Well you’re not alone. Around 1 billion people around the world now rely on seafood as their main source of protein. But there’s a catch. Over 1100 species of fish are now listed as ‘at risk of extinction’, and many more are endangered. Add the fact that the amount of fish taken from the ocean has increased fivefold in the past 50 years, and you could say we’ve got a problem. However, as consumers, it’s not all out of our hands; simply by swapping which fish you buy, you can make a change! The first thing to do is learn what to avoid when you’re perusing the aisles, and find out what to replace them with.
Top of the ‘avoid’ list: Atlantic and North Sea Cod. This popular white fish is a British favorite, but unfortunately this is reflected in their ever-diminishing stocks. It’s been suggested that if the decline trend continues, stocks could completely disappear within 15 years. The good news is there are other, more sustainable, white flaky fish available. Pollock is my personal choice, and I would even argue it tastes nicer! Cornish Pollock is generally accepted as the best, followed closely by its Alaskan counterpart, albeit slightly less sustainable. A pretty big pro is that Pollock is almost always cheaper than cod, meaning that by buying ASDA’s frozen Pollock fillets (roughly 10 for £4), you’ll have loads more money for alcoholic beverages. Waitrose also have a range of line caught, Cornish Pollock.
In a close second, there’s another white fish. Haddock. This chip shop favorite often swims with cod, meaning they suffer from the same overfishing issues. An easy switch for this one is Coley (also known as Saithe). The marine conservation society classes this as sustainable when caught in the north Atlantic; which is where, conveniently, most of it is caught. Coley has a slightly greyer color to haddock, but don’t let that put you off, the taste is just as nice.
Third on my list is tasty tuna. Don’t panic though, you need not avoid ALL of it, you just need to read the label and look out for a couple of things before buying. One of the main issues with tuna is how it’s caught. Some tuna is caught with things called FAD’s (fish aggregating devices), which are a super-effective method, but kill other species such as sharks, rays and turtles in the process! I think we can all agree that’s pretty terrible, right? The two main tuna companies associated with FAD methods are Princes and John West, so I would definitely recommend avoiding these labels. The question now is which labels to buy instead. Fortunately for us, Greenpeace created a brilliant list, ranking British supermarkets in order of tuna sustainability: Sainsbury’s came top, with the Co-op in second. In summary, line or pole caught tuna (of the skipjack variety) is the best to buy; and ideally from the Maldives if you’re feeling really sustainable.
Those are just three of the fish types that you need to think twice about when buying, but there are plenty more. Visit http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/oceans or http://www.mcsuk.org for more information. And if you’re interested in helping the ocean out in other ways, have a wonder over to our university’s very own marine conservation society and sign up to a beach clean!