14: Know what fish to eat

“Healthy oceans are essential for thriving marine ecosystems, livelihoods and economies around the world. Today our oceans are under more pressure than ever from human and environmental impacts.”

Marine Stewardship Council

simple thing 14 know what fish not to eatDespite many efforts of organisations such as the the  Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) with their ‘eco-label’ or products they approve of, there are many inaccuracies and disputes about the sustainability of various fishing and fish farming methods.

Help encourage more fisheries to use well managed, sustainable fishing methods by informing yourself about the current state of the fish you buy. This way, we can start to reverse the decline of the fish population in our seas. It means we safeguard livelihoods and our economies, as well as protect marine life. Everything that lives in the ocean plays it part in keeping the oceans healthy and alive.

Why do we need healthy oceans?

  • Oceans generate half of the oxygen people breathe.
  • At any given moment, more than 97% of the world’s water resides in oceans.
  • Oceans provide a sixth of the animal protein people eat.
  • They’re the most promising source of new medicines to combat cancer, pain and bacterial diseases.
  • Living oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of climate change.

Marine Conservation Institute

Know what fish to eat and not to eat

Eat fish that are positioned low down in the food chain, as they are often quicker to reproduce and less likely to dwindle in numbers.

Fish you should definitely avoid when possible are:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon (farmed and from specific regions)
  • Swordfish
  • Cod
  • Marlin

This does not mean you can never have any fish! Why no try one of these:

  • Haddock (certain regions only)
  • Mussels (preferably farmed)
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Anchovies (if you’re not keen on the salty taste, get fresh, non-treated anchovies)

Bear in mind that even with these fish you need to consider where and how they have been caught, for example in the case of haddock.

Haddock; West Scotland; Faroes; North East Arctic; North Sea


Equally, salmon has some exceptions where it can be ok to eat. The Marine Conservation Society‘s guide to sustainable seafood ‘FishOnline’, suggests that some salmon can be fairly sustainable. Check out the FishOnline sustainable seafood guide to find out more.

Best thing to remember is: eat fish occasionally, making sure it is as sustainable and humanely sourced as possible. Baked potato with tinned tuna every day? No.  Farmed mussels with a tasty white wine sauce now and then? Sure!

What recipes have you found with any of the above fish? Share it with us and help inspire others to cook using sustainable ingredients.

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