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Simplified Sustainability Guide Launched

UK - The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has launched its most comprehensive sustainable seafood advice to date, giving consumers, industry, chefs and retailers the best chance they have ever had to make the right decision when it comes to buying seafood.

MCS says that by making the right choices now, and by varying the types of fish to go with chips or in chowder, consumers can allow depleted fish stocks to recover and ensure future generations have the opportunity to enjoy a fish supper. A new online consumer guide to sustainable seafood, the Good Fish Guide, at www.goodfishguide.org.uk, gives straightforward advice and recipe ideas to help make buying choices simple and more varied. This site links with the more comprehensive Fishonline website, www.fishonline.org, which is already widely used by the public, chefs and industry as a one-stop reference point when sourcing sustainable fish. Fishonline was the tool of choice for celebrity chefs during Channel 4’s Fish Fight series earlier this year, and is updated with easier search functions for fish buyers and consumers wanting to buy sustainably. The MCS Pocket Good Fish Guide has also been updated, and now includes a credit card-sized guide to purchasing fish, with top buying tips and questions to ask at the fish counter when labelling isn’t sufficiently informative. MCS Aquaculture and Fisheries Programme Manager, Dr Peter Duncan, says these sources of information are vital to saving fish stocks: “We know that in the UK, 90 per cent of fish sales are from just five species – tuna, cod, salmon, prawns and haddock. But such a limited range causes problems not only for these target species, but also for fish caught accidentally that are then thrown away.

"We need to change the situation so that maybe 50-70 per cent of sales would come from the top five and alternatives could start appearing – pollack, gurnard, coley, dab, sprats. Such fish have recently been unfashionable or discarded, but they are, in reality, tasty, often cheaper and more sustainable.”

MCS says the upgraded, easier to use versions of their guides provide lots of options for trying something new.

They also reveal the best choices for many of those traditional species such as farmed prawns, salmon, cold water prawns and Scottish North Sea Haddock, which have either been farmed organically or caught from sustainable or certified fisheries. However, the charity says consumers may be limited in making the right choices because of poor and confusing labelling at the shopping front line – the supermarket and fish shop.

“The use of a traffic light system to indicate the nutritional value of supermarket produce is now well established. However, sadly, the labelling of fish and fish products sold in supermarkets has not kept up. It is still virtually impossible to tell precisely where most fish and fish products have been caught,” added Peter Duncan.

MCS will continue to work with the seafood industry and other environmental organisations to ensure that labelling offers more answers than questions, and is firmly on the agenda for fish retailers.

the Fish Site Editor

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