New sustainability ratings from the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide have found that only 46% of ratings for UK caught seafood score highly enough to meet the charity’s sourcing recommendations for businesses.
This means fish and chip shops may have to source certain species of fish and shellfish from further afield to ensure a steady supply of sustainable seafood, which unfortunately adds to their carbon footprint.
This autumn’s update to the Good Fish Guide sees 53 ratings changes in line with the latest scientific advice, with 19 moving down the sustainability scale. The Guide includes 337 ratings for wild caught fish and shellfish in UK seas, as well as seafood caught elsewhere in the world but sold in the UK.
This season’s update sees pollack from southwest UK, (not to be confused with Alaskan pollock which is often used for fish fingers and is mostly green rated), move to the red list. Pollack has long been a favourite among chefs seeking an alternative to the more obvious cod and haddock. It is caught by British fisherman but after years of poor management stocks in the English Channel and Celtic Seas have plummeted and it is no longer a sustainable catch.
Hoki however makes its debut as a rating on the Good Fish Guide, proving just how far UK seafood buyers are having to look for a sustainable source of flaky white fish – coming all the way from New Zealand and now used as McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.
Coley caught in the North Sea and West of Scotland as well as Arctic longline haddock move from amber to green.
Jack Clarke, sustainable seafood manager at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “Most responsible businesses have sourcing policies that set sustainability standards for the seafood they’re buying. Less than half of our ratings for UK seafood meet these standards.
“British fishers, who are faced with a shrinking domestic market for their catch, need more support from the government. Better managed fisheries mean more jobs, resilient coastal communities and a consistent supply of nutritious, low carbon food.”
The Good Fish Guide is updated twice a year. Green signifies the ‘Best Choice’ most sustainable options, amber is an ‘OK Choice’ but improvements are needed, and red indicates unsustainable ‘Fish to Avoid’.