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The good fish guide – a sustainable guide

09 October 2008 by
The good fish guide – a sustainable guide

"Don't use cod", "only serve sardines from the Atlantic over the winter months" - when it comes to buying fish for your restaurant the edicts fly around. With so much concern over preserving stocks and not harming the environment, it's hard to know what to buy - so here's an easy-to-use guide to sea fish, showing the most sustainable options and those that are less so. Tom Vaughan reports

There has been rather a glut of sustainable seafood information recently and the comprehensive Good Catch Manual brings together the work of four sustainability bodies and gives detailed information on the various catch methods and locations of all fish and seafood. If that is too wieldy to lug into your local fishmonger, the Marine Conservation Society's Pocket Good Fish Guide is a credit card-sized summary of the Fishonline website (www.fishonline.org), useful for determining the sustainability of ingredients at a glance.

With the help of both guides we have listed below, from sustainable to unsustainable, the main fish available in British waters when you should eat them and, if available, more viable alternatives from further afield.

The best choices

(Fish from sustainable stocks)

  • Brown crab pot-caught in south Devon - Best eaten July-March
  • Langoustine from MSC-certified fishery in Loch Torridon and the Inner Sound of Rona - Avoid from Spain and Portugal - Best eaten July-February
  • Mussels rope-grown or hand-gathered - Best eaten October-March

The next-best choices

(Fish from sustainable stocks)

  • Cockles MSC-certified or hand-gathered - Caution dredge-caught
  • Gurnard, grey and red - Best eaten September-March (grey), October-May (red)
  • Pollack otter trawl and handline - Best eaten March-December
  • Sardines from Cornwall - Best eaten September-February
  • Sea bass line-caught - Avoid pelagic-trawled - Best eaten July-February
  • Spider crab pot-caught - Best eaten August-March
  • Squid jig-caught - Caution trawl-caught

Eat occasionally

(Fish from fisheries in danger of becoming unsustainable due to environmental, management or stock issues)

  • Haddock from North Sea and north-east Arctic - Avoid from Faroes and west Scotland - Best eaten March-February
  • Lemon sole otter trawl-caught - Best eaten September-March
  • Lobster European pot-caught - Best eaten October-July
  • Mackerel MSC-certified handline fisheries in South-west England and drift net in Hastings - (NB Although the fisheries are certified as sustainable, large pelagic trawlers have recently been targeting the same stock, diminishing it somewhat)
  • Monkfish from the South-west - Avoid North and North West Spain and Portugal
  • Plaice otter trawled from Irish Sea or gill/seine net from North Sea - Avoid west English Channel, Celtic Sea, south-west Ireland and west Ireland - Best eaten April-December
  • Dover sole MSC-certified from Hastings fleet trammel net fishery within the east English Channel - Caution remaining eastern English Channel and south-west Ireland - Avoid North Sea and Irish Sea - Best eaten July-March

Eat less occasionally

(Fish from fisheries in danger of becoming unsustainable due to environmental, management or stock issue)

  • Atlantic cod wild-caught from north-east Arctic, Iceland, west English Channel, Bristol Channel, south-east Ireland and Sole - Avoid wild-caught from all other areas - Best eaten March-January
  • Ling handline-caught from the Faroes - Avoid all other stocks

Avoid

(Fish from unsustainable, overfished, vulnerable and/or badly managed fisheries and/or with high levels of by-catch)

  • Herring from south Clyde, west Ireland and Great Sole fisheries - Eat: from Norwegian stocks
  • Turbot wild-caught

The best choices

Buy occasionally

Buy less occasionally

Fish from sustainable stocks

Best eaten July-March

â- Langoustine from MSC-certified fishery in Loch Torridon and the Inner Sound of Rona

Avoid from Spain and Portugal

Best eaten July-February

â- Mussels rope-grown or hand-gathered

Best eaten October-March

Fish from fisheries in danger of becoming unsustainable owing to environmental, management or stock issues

â- Haddock from North Sea and north-east Arctic

Avoid from Faroes and west Scotland

Best eaten March-February

â- Lemon sole otter trawl-caught

Best eaten September-March

â- Lobster European pot-caught

Best eaten October-July

â- Mackerel MSC-certified handline fisheries in south-west England and drift net in Hastings

(NB Although the fisheries are certified as sustainable, large pelagic trawlers have recently been targeting the same stock, diminishing it somewhat)

â- Monkfish from the South-west

Avoid north and north-west Spain and Portugal

â- Plaice otter trawled from Irish Sea or gill/seine net from North Sea

Avoid west English Channel, Celtic Sea, south-west Ireland and west Ireland

Best eaten April-December

â- Dover sole MSC-certified from Hastings fleet trammel net fishery within the east English Channel

Caution remaining eastern English Channel and south-west Ireland

Avoid North Sea and Irish Sea

Best eaten July-March

Fish from fisheries in danger of becoming unsustainable owing to environmental, management or stock issue

â- Atlantic cod wild-caught from north-east Arctic, Iceland, west English Channel, Bristol Channel, south-east Ireland and Sole

Avoid wild-caught from all other areas

Best eaten March-January

â- Ling handline-caught from the Faroes

Avoid all other stocks

The next-best choices

Fish from unsustainable, overfished, vulnerable and/or badly managed fisheries and/or with high levels of by-catch

â- Herring from south Clyde, west Ireland and Great Sole fisheries

Buy from Norwegian stocks

â- Turbot wild-caught

Recipe from Tom and Rob Aikens

Good Catch and the Good Catch Manual

Good Catch is an initiative that aims to help food service professionals navigate the subject of seafood sustainability. It brings together the work of four organisations: the Marine Conservation Society (www.mcsuk.org), the Marine Stewardship Council (www.msc.org), Seafood Choices Alliance (www.seafoodchoices.com) and Sustain (www.sustainweb.org).

Good Catch will direct you to a range of materials and activities, including: a seafood sustainability manual covering around 50 species served in UK restaurants a website, www.goodcatch.org.uk, which directly routes users to sustainable seafood information and practical support on sourcing MSC-certified seafood and highlighting it on menus and a directory of suppliers offering sustainable seafood.

To download The Good Catch Manual, visit www.seafoodchoices.org/whatwedo/goodcatch.php or, for a free hard copy (or a suggested donation), eâ€'mail info@goodcatch.org.uk.

Pollack, capers and paprika

Ingredients

(Serves four)

2 x 1kg pollacks, filleted (could also use 4 gurnard or 4 large pouting)

150ml olive oil

3g coarse sea salt

8 turns fresh milled pepper

4 large pinches paprika

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

20g butter

For the sauce

100g butter

100g shallots, finely diced

4 pinches smoked paprika (pimenton)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

60g capers, chopped

1 lemon, segmented and cut into little squares

1tbs parsley, chopped

Method

Brush the fish with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, rubbing the paprika and lemon zest into the flesh, and a dab of butter on top. Pre heat the oven to 180°C, place the fish on a non-stick baking tray and into the oven for 8-10 minutes. When the fish is cooked, remove from the oven and squeeze over some fresh lemon juice.

For the sauce, place the butter into a pan and on to the stove on a medium heat. Let the butter foam away and after 3-4 minutes it will start to go brown. As soon as the foaming is slowing down, add the chopped shallots and paprika and simmer these for just a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, capers, lemon segments and parsley and season with coarse sea salt and pepper.

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