By Jack Clarke, Sustainable Seafood Advocate, Marine Conservation Society
We carried out some research recently that showed 40% of Brits would only try new types of seafood in a restaurant. Being part of SRA’s Food Made Good network, you play a hugely important role in encouraging diners to eat planet-friendly options that they might not try at home.
But with seafood, it’s not just about introducing diners to new things. Sadly, sometimes seafood needs to take a break from gracing menus, so it has a chance to recover. By using the Good Fish Guide, you can offer your diners the ocean-friendly experience they’re after.
Careful with crab
We catch a lot of brown crab in the UK, more than anyone in the world. Sadly, only 1% of this crab is a sustainable choice. We have concerns for crab and lobster in the West of Scotland and they joined the fish to avoid list.
Crabs are caught in pots, or creels. As fishing methods go, this is relatively low-impact. Baited pots are lowered onto the seafloor, crabs crawl inside and are trapped. When the pots are hauled back to the surface, any under-sized crabs are thrown back in, to fight another day. That means we’re not catching crabs before they’ve had a chance to breed and that’s a good thing.
But you can catch the last fish in the sea with a rod & line- we need to make sure that stocks are healthy enough to support sustainable fisheries. And despite the fishing method being low-impact, many populations of crab around the UK are not doing too well.
Shetland crab is the only one on the Good Fish Guide’s Best Choice list. They have pot limits, good data collection and other management measures. They’re certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. Likewise, MSC Jersey lobster is a great option. So sustainable shellfish fisheries are very much a possibility and something we’re pushing working hard to achieve.
Stock up on sardines
Sardines are a great candidate for the perfect fish. They breed quickly, at an early age and are chock full of Omega-3. Many European stocks have recovered from worrying lows and here in the UK, many have moved onto the Best Choice list.
North Sea herring stocks are on the up too. Like sardines, they can be a super-sustainable, nutritious fish, but they’re not exactly a popular option on British menus. It’s a real shame, because gram for gram small pelagic (open-ocean) fish like these are one of the most planet friendly sources of nutrition we have, beating rice, seeds and mushrooms!
What can you do?
Talk to your supplier about your shellfish. We recommend sourcing seafood rated 1-3 on the Good Fish Guide. Crab and lobster fisheries vary around the country and most vary between 3 and 4, so always check ratings for your local sources, they might not be the best option.
As ever, check the Good Fish Guide and let your supplier know what you’re after.