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Project Ocean Vision Fish-buying guide

A Guide to buying fish in the UK

   

Many of the world's fish stocks are seriously depleted, largely due to over-fishing. Shops and supermarkets will continue to stock threatened species as long as customers buy them, thereby creating demand for these species in the fishing industry. Informed shoppers can modify their buying patterns to purchase only those species that have safer populations instead of endangered species; if there is no demand at the point of sale to the public, fisheries will be forced to change their practices and target species.

The table in our fish buying guide shows which fish to buy and which to avoid in (mainly) UK and European shops. In order to allow stocks to recover, we strongly recommend not buying fresh fish during the breeding season, only buying each species during the season shown in the table.

The species names in column 1 of our fish buying guide are also links to descriptions of the species. The most highly recommended species are indicated by a green tag in column 2 ("RECOMMENDED"), whilst those species that should never be bought are marked with a red tag in column 6 ("DO NOT BUY"). The tags detail the area of origin, the fishing method and the sub-species, where appropriate.

As of January 2002, the labelling of fish (whole and fillets only) for origin and species became mandatory in the EC. Labelling must include the commercial name of the species, fishing or production methods (caught at sea or in fresh water, farmed or cultivated) and the area where the fish was caught. If you encounter a shop that does not display this information or is unable to provide it, please report this fact to FishOnline using their questionnaire form - this is run by the Marine Conservation Society who are actively campaigning to improve labelling and to enforce good practice.

The season in column 7 shows which months of the year each species should be bought in order to avoid the breeding seasons. "MSC" refers to the Marine Stewardship Council.

This data was researched by Project Ocean Vision from a variety of sources, including the Marine Conservation Society. A pdf version of our fish buying guide is available for printing and reference.

Courtney - Project Ocean Vision


Project Ocean Vision Fish Buying Guide
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
SPECIES

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED

RECOMMENDED MARGINAL NOT RECOMMENDED DO NOT BUY SEASON
             
 Abalone   Farmed only       All year
 Anchovy       Portuguese Coast Bay of Biscay Aug-Feb
 Anglerfish     Southwest UK,
Northeast USA
  North & Northwest Spain
& Portugal
Jul-Oct
 Bib   All areas       May-Feb
 Black Bream   All areas       Jun-Mar
 Clam American hardshell & Manila hand gathered farmed   Dredge caught     Oct-Apr
 Cockle   MSC Certified or hand gathered Dredge caught     Sep-Feb
 Cod, Atlantic     Northeast Arctic wild caught.  Wild caught from: Iceland, Western English Channel, Bristol Channel, Southeast Ireland & Sole Wild caught from all other areas May-Jan
 Cod, Pacific MSC Certified         May-Oct
 Coley MSC Certified   Iceland
Faroes
    May-Dec
 Crab Edible brown, pot caught from South Devon Spider pot caught Edible or brown, pot caught     Jul-Mar
 Dab   All areas       Jul-Mar
 Flounder   All areas       Jun-Feb
 Gurnard   Red or Grey Yellow or tub     Oct-Mar
 Haddock     Northeast Arctic
North Sea
Skaggerak
Kattegat
  Faroes
West Scotland
May-Feb
 Hake     Cape MSC Certified European Northern stock European southern stock Oct-Jul
 Halibut     Pacific MSC certified   Atlantic, wild caught Feb-Oct
 Halibut,
 Greenland
 
      N.E. Arctic Northwest Atlantic
Greenland
Iceland
West Scotland
Azores
Jul-Mar
 Herring   Norwegian MSC certified   South Clyde
Western Ireland
Great Sole fisheries
May-Jul
 Langoustine,
 Dublin Bay
MSC Certified   W. Scotland
North Sea
Kattegat
  Spain
Portugal
Jun-Feb
 Ling     Handline
caught from
Faroes
  All other stocks Aug-Feb
 Lobster Western Australian rock,
MSC certified
  European, pot caught European, net caught Canada
South New England
Oct-Jun
 Lythe   All areas       Sep-Mar
 Mackerel     MSC certified     Oct-Apr
 Monkfish     S.W. UK
N.E. USA
  North & Northwest Spain
Portugal
Jul-Oct
 Mussel,
 Common
Rope grown or hand gathered         Oct-Apr
 Oyster Farmed native & Pacific         Oct-Apr
 Pilchard   Cornwall   Spain
Portugal
  Aug-Feb
 Plaice     Otter trawled from Irish Sea,
gill/seine net from  North Sea
  Western English Channel,
Celtic Sea,
Southwest Ireland,
West Ireland
Apr-Dec
 Pollock   All areas       May-Dec
 Pollock, Alaska   MSC Certified       May-Dec
 Pollock,
 Walleye
  MSC Certified       Feb-Sep
 Porgy   All areas       Jun-Mar
 Pouting   All areas       May-Feb
 Prawn   Coldwater from NE Arctic Tiger, organically
farmed
Coldwater from North Pacific Tiger, farmed & wild caught Nov-May
 Prawn,
 Dublin Bay
MSC Certified   West Scotland
North Sea
Kattegat
  Spain
Portugal
Jun-Feb
 Ray     Cuckoo and spotted from:
North Sea,
Skaggerak,
East English Channel,
Celtic Sea.

Starry from:
North Sea,
Skaggerak,
East English Channel.
  Smalleyed & thornback from Bay of Biscay;
all blonde, sandy, shagreen & undulate
Jun-Nov
 Red Mullet   Northeast Atlantic   Mediterranean   Aug-Mar
 Saithe MSC Certified   Iceland
Faroes
    May-Dec
 Salmon Pacific Organically farmed   Atlantic farmed Atlantic wild
caught
Jan-Jun
 Sardine   Cornwall   Spain
Portugal
  Aug-Feb
 Scampi,
 Dublin Bay
MSC Certified   West Scotland
North Sea
Kattegat
  Spain
Portugal
Jun-Feb
 Seabass   Line caught   Farmed Pelagic trawled Oct-Feb
 Seabream     Organically farmed   Red or blackspot No data
 Sild   Norwegian MSC certified   South Clyde
Western Ireland
Great Sole fisheries
May-Jul
 Skate         All areas Never
 Snapper Red from West
Australia trap
fishery
Malabar
blood from West
Australia
Vermillion and lane Silk and yellowtail Cubera, mutton and Northern red Apr-Sep
 Sole   Common or Dover, MSC certified.
Lemon, otter trawl caught
Common or Dover from E. English Channel & Southwest Ireland   Common or Dover from North Sea & Irish Sea Sep-Mar
 Squid   Jig caught Trawl caught     Sep-Dec
 Swordfish         Indian Ocean,
Mediterranean,
Central & Western
Pacific
Never
 Trout   Brown or sea & rainbow, organically farmed   Brown or sea and rainbow, farmed Brown or sea, wild caught from Baltic Feb-Sep
 Tuna, Albacore   MSC certified North Pacific Pole & Line from North Atlantic Longline & pelagic trawled from Mediterranean, North & South Atlantic All year
 Tuna, Bigeye       Handline and pole & line from Central and Western Pacific All other areas Aug-Apr
 Tuna, Bluefin         All areas Never
 Tuna, Skipjack   Pole & line from West & Central Pacific or Maldives Indian Ocean   Purse seine from Western Atlantic Aug-Apr
 Tuna, Yellowfin     All other areas Purse seine from Indian Ocean or Eastern Pacific   Aug-Apr
 Turbot     Farmed   Wild caught Sep-Apr

Click here to download a pdf version of the Project Ocean Vision Fish Buying Guide for printing and reference.

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