We are often told to lay off ordering one fish or another. The usual reason, a sound one, is overfishing. Fish have seasons, demand, breeding cycles, food chain and other factors which affect what is sustainable. A big one here from the human side is demand. Close your eyes at the end of the next two sentences. Imagine you are in your local fish and chip shop. Which three fish would you see on the board?
OK, so how many of you got cod, plaice and haddock? Haddock is rated as “should probably not be considered sustainable at this time”. The other two are “should not be considered sustainable”, which is slightly worse. The Marine Conservation Society publish a sustainability score. This goes from 1 which is most sustainable to 5 which is avoid. Swings in demand, taste or fashion really impact sustainability.
An example is the handsome chap above, the monkfish. Once upon a time golden deep fried scampi would be monkfish. Scampi or langoustine or Dublin Bay prawn was seen as expensive and the monkfish was not a pretty sight on the fish counter. It was seen almost as waste, so “scampi” was a by product. Monkfish had a bit of a turn round and the tail become very popular. Now it’s less sustainable than real scampi.
A message a few years ago was to eat mackerel. Again it’s been pushed closer to the wrong end of the scale. This happens with most fish sadly. It was not long ago that oysters were cheaper than lamb so hot pot contained a layer or so. Each time a species moves towards endangered another is often heading in the other direction. Atlantic haddock, pollock , some species of crabs and prawns are great choices. Who would have thought that the darlings of the bistro, the seabass and the mussel, though very popular are very sustainable.
The sustainability of fish species is constantly changing. For up to date information have a look at The Marine Conservation Society website. There is an app and a downloadable Good Fish Guide plus plenty of information on the site.