September 4, 2008

Revealed: 70 Types of Seafood ‘You Should Not Eat’ to Conserve Stocks

By Jenny Haworth Environment Correspondent

FROM king prawns and anchovies to Scottish haddock and cod, almost 70 types of seafood should remain in the sea and off the dinner plate, according to new recommendations from a conservation group.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) today publishes its annual list of which fish to eat, and which to avoid.

It gives advice on more than 150 species, recommending 69 stocks should be avoided as they are unsustainable due to overfishing, poor management or because the method of harvesting harms other species.

New to the list of fish to steer clear of this year is haddock from the Faroe Islands and the west of Scotland. Instead, the MCS suggests shoppers should choose haddock from the north-east Arctic, where stocks are healthy and harvested sustainably.

Other fish added to the not-to-eat list include common and Dover sole from the North Sea or Irish Sea, albacore tuna from the Mediterranean and South Atlantic and certain types of Atlantic cod. Other fish not to eat include Bay of Biscay anchovy, any type of king prawn that has not been caught organically, Chilean seabass, conger eel, Atlantic halibut, wild Atlantic salmon, many types of shark and nearly every type of skate.

All types of tuna should also be avoided - apart from albacore tuna from the American Albacore Fishing Association in the South Pacific and skipjack caught by pole and line methods in the Maldives or the western and central Pacific, according to the charity.

However, clams and Pacific cod and salmon certified by the Marine Stewardship Council have moved into the category of fish that is best to eat, along with scallops from farmed stocks.

The MCS hopes the list, available in full online, will help consumers make the right choice at fish counters, restaurants and takeaways.

However, it is concerned that labelling is not good enough to enable shoppers to make informed choices.

While European Union legislation demands that retailers display various details on seafood, they think labelling of processed products and at fresh- fish counters, takeaways and restaurants remains poor.

Sam Wilding, the MCS fisheries officer, said: "Labelling of seafood sold in the UK is lacking detail, and as such is not fit for purpose. This is leading to confusion among consumers, who really want to make the best sustainable seafood choice.

"It is vital that consumers are given better information to act upon if we are to reduce the tragedy of overfishing."

He said cod was one example of why detailed labelling was important, as stocks vary in different regions, with cod from the north-east Arctic a better choice than from the North Sea.

However, Philip MacMullen, the head of environmental responsibility at Sea Fish Industry Authority, said it was difficult to rely on "eat and avoid" lists because of the complexity of fisheries.

"Fish stocks are dynamic and can change their status quite quickly," he said.

He added that seafood lovers should be reassured that fish for sale in the UK is subject to strict quota systems that protect stocks.



From the Bay of Biscay. Stocks are at an all-time low.

Tiger prawn

Only eat if it has been organically farmed. Otherwise try coldwater prawns.


From the Faroe Islands and west of Scotland fisheries. Choose haddock from the north east Arctic instead.


From West of Scotland, West Ireland, and Great Sole fisheries. Chose herring from Norway instead.

Wild Atlantic cod

Except from north east Arctic, Iceland, Western Channel, Bristol Channel, South-east Ireland and Sole.

Wild Atlantic salmon

Choose organically farmed Atlantic salmon or MSC certified Pacific salmon from Alaska instead.


American hardshell clam

Manila clams are also good, as long as they are from hand- gathered, farmed sources.

Pacific cod

Must be MSC certified and from the Bering Sea or Aleutian Islands only.


Must be MSC certified and only from Norwegian waters, where they are harvested sustainably.

Common mussel

Should be rope-grown or hand harvested, as this causes less disturbance to sediment. Blue mussels are also good to eat.

Alaskan salmon

All five species of Pacific salmon caught in Alaskan waters are certified by MSC as environmentally responsible.

Albacore tuna

Must be MSC certified and from the north or south Pacific, where stock is above safe limits.

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