Thursday 30 June 2016

Weekly Green Tips - 7 ways to have a sustainable fish dinner

Week 14 - 7 ways to eat fish and be sustainable

Oceans cover over 70% of the surface of the earth and can supply us with vast amounts of food in the form of fish. However overfishing has decimated some fish populations so we need to reduce fishing of these threatened species to allow populations to recover.  Indiscriminate fishing methods such as bottom trawling which catches everything is also very destructive to fish populations.  

Image from Marine Conservation Society

7 ways to eat fish and be sustainable

1.  Avoid immature fish

You need to avoid eating immature fish that have not had the chance to breed so I am afraid that means no more whitebait which are immature fish of various species mostly of the herring family

2.  Eat small fish species

Species that are naturally small when adult are good to eat – reaching maturity quickly their populations can quickly build up again after fishing. So anchovies, herring, sardines, sprats and mackerel are good fish to serve up … and they are often the oily fish that contain high levels of health giving omega 3 fish oils.


3.  Avoid farmed fish

Whilst some claim that certain farmed fish are sustainable, the argument against them is that the fish are fed food made from fish and it would be more sustainable to actually eat those fish ourselves.   Some fish farms can also be very polluting although they are much better than they were a few years ago and when fish are kept together in such hight numbers disease can quickly spread through the farm.  This disease can also pass to wild populations.  Farmed shellfish are, however an exception to this rule:

4.  Eat farmed shellfish

One exception to avoiding farmed fish is shellfish such as clams, mussels and oysters. These bivalves filter and clean the water thus improving its quality Рso you can tuck into a plate of moules marini̬res without feeling guilty.

Moules marinières - image from Flikr

5.  Eat locally caught fish

Eating local fish means there is minimal transportation to consider. Also European fisheries are working hard to ensure their fish populations are being managed sustainably which means you stand a greater chance of eating a sustainable fish if it is local.

6.  Buy from local fishmongers

If you buy from a local fishmonger and especially those who sell form the quayside you can ask questions about the fish you want to buy - ask where it comes from, how it was caught, was it farmed?

7. Most sustainable fish to buy

As well as the fish already mentioned in this post (small fish such as anchovies, herring, sardines, sprats and mackerel and shellfish such as mussels, oysters and clams) there are some other fish that are good to eat.  These must have been line caught though to be sustainable and include skipjack tuna, Icelandic haddock and sea bass.  If in doubt as to which fish you should or should not be buying you can always refer to the Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide or download this Good Fish App.

A Green and Rosie Life

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