Romance the Seas this Valentines and Only Choose Sustainable Seafood

Marine Conservation Society updates its seafood advice to put consumers in control

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Marine Conservation Society

Marine Conservation Society


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There’s good news for fish lovers as Valentines Day approaches with a number of new entries to the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Fish to Eat list in the charity’s popular Good Fish Guide.

Luckily for lovers, farmed oysters are on the list. Legend has it that the zinc in this particular shellfish is good for the libido and consequentially oysters have traditionally been eaten as an aphrodisiac!

But if oysters don’t stimulate romantic inclinations, why not give the one you love a sustainable seafood feast on February 14th with some of the other species on the list to choose from?

Anchovy, from the Bay of Biscay, previously rated as a fish to eat only occasionally, is now on the MCS Fish to Eat list. This is great news for seafood lovers as they are a staple of pizza toppings and Caesar Salad, and increasingly used in a wide variety of other recipes, too, from dips to sauces.

Also new to the Fish to Eat list are net or otter trawled Dover or common sole from the from the North Sea, pole and line caught skipjack tuna from the Indian Ocean and Maldives, and bigeye tuna that’s been troll-caught (a method using baited hooks or lures)  from the Indian Ocean.

MCS Fisheries Officer, Bernadette Clarke, says it’s vital that the public, along with chefs, retailers and fish buyers keep referring to the Pocket Good Fish Guide, the guide on iphone App, or the more detailed Good Fish Guide and Fishonline websites to ensure they have the most up-to-date advice.

 “The state of stocks in the North East Atlantic, for example, is in a constant state of change. The latest data has shown quite a change in certain cod fisheries. We are now rating cod from the Celtic Sea as a 3, a fantastic increase from last year’s rating of 5 which meant it was one to avoid. It’s rating has improved because it’s ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) stock analysis shows biomass is now above sustainable levels, and it is classified as having full reproductive capacity and harvested sustainably. Cod, however, is generally listed by the Oslo and Paris Conventions (OSPAR)  as a threatened and declining species in the Greater North Sea and the Celtic Sea, so continued care in sourcing only from sustainable stocks is advised.”

 A regular inclusion on many a menu as a starter is deep fried whitebait. In the latest MCS Pocket Good Fish Guide, these tiny juvenile silvery members of the herring family appear as a new addition on the Fish to Avoid list. “We are urging people not to choose whitebait because they are small, immature fish, usually sprat, herring and sand eel, which are harvested in large quantities, putting pressure on stocks and reducing food supplies for other species in the food chain such as marine birds,” said Bernadette Clarke.

MCS suggests that if people are going to eat fish and want something sustainable, versatile and tasty, they try some of the shellfish that appear on the Fish to Eat list. “Clams. Mussels or oysters are all good choices for people who want to eat sustainably,” says Bernadette Clarke. “These tend to be farmed in ways that don’t damage the species’ stock numbers or the environment. For example, rope-grown mussels rely on naturally settling spats (“baby” mussels) and don’t require any feed or chemical inputs. 

“As world population, fish consumption and reliance on fish imports from outside of the EU increases, the importance of knowing what we are eating, as well as where and how it is caught is essential to allow consumers to make the most sustainable choice for the future of our fish.”

You can get the very latest sustainable seafood advice by downloading the MCS Pocket Good Fish Guide from the charity’s website, logging on to or or installing the Good Fish Guide app for iphone.

February 9, 2012