Fish guide champions sustainable swaps

Caterers are being urged to swap haddock for hake and salmon for trout to make seafood dishes more sustainable.

Scallops and sprat are also being championed as more sustainable options after the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) updated the ratings for its Good Fish Guide this week.

English farmed scallops and English Channel sprat, which often appears on menus as whitebait, have joined the guide’s ‘best choice’ list alongside other green rated seafood include hake, hand-dived scallops, Icelandic coley, and plaice caught in various locations around the English coast.  

The Good Fish Guide’s ‘fish to avoid’ list has nine new additions, however, including some American lobster and UK squid.  

Concerns about American lobster relate to the critically endangered Northern right whale, which can get tangled in the ropes from lobster pots. UK squid populations, meanwhile, are declining in many areas and there is no management in place to help protect them.

This year’s guide is championing sustainable swaps for the most commonly chosen seafood in the UK. Around 80% of the seafood consumed is made up of just five species: cod, haddock, salmon, tuna and prawns.

The MCS says recipes which call for fish like cod and haddock could instead be replaced with hake – a meaty white fish, caught in the UK, with impressive sustainability credentials.

Instead of salmon, the guide recommends farmed trout which is already proving popular among leading chefs for its versatility, meatiness and flavour.

“We’re all too often opting for what we call the big five: cod, haddock, salmon, tuna and prawns,” said sustainable seafood advocate Jack Clarke. “Not only is that really boring, it's a pretty bad idea. It puts a lot of pressure on a handful of wild stocks and creates demand that drives unsustainable fishing and farming practices. That’s why we want more people to try swapping out the most commonly-bought seafood for lesser-known, more sustainable, options.”

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