Today it’s World Oceans Day and around the world people are celebrating the ocean. We love the sea for so many reasons, many people rely on it for jobs, for fun, to store carbon, for food and much more. But sometimes we forget that the wild caught fish we eat are actually creatures from wild populations that need careful management if we are all to keep enjoying them.
Ethical buying, including of seafood, has come a long way, and people and businesses are increasingly looking for seafood that is either sustainably assessed, rated well or certified as such which is great to see. People might not know though that in a similar way to fruit and vegetables, seasonality is also important for seafood.
Find out the best fish to eat over the next few months!
Img by:Paul Naylor / marinephoto.co.uk
Wild caught fish live in the sea naturally, and like any wild animal, they need to be allowed to grow to maturity and breed and they do this at different times of the year depending on the species.
Seasonality does not apply to farmed seafood as they do not breed and reproduce in the same way as wild caught fish. Frozen or processed fish also don't follow the same guidelines so always choose fresh to guarantee the freshness and seasonality of the fish.
When buying fresh fish, picking them at the right time can be important. By avoiding immature (baby) fish and species that are in their spawning season – including berried crab and lobster - we can allow fish the chance to reproduce and contribute to their population. This can help maintain and increase fish stock levels and also contribute to their value in maintaining jobs and food security.
Coley - June
Coley belongs to the same family as cod and haddock and is a great sustainable substitute for cod. Also known as saithe, coley used to be a favourite of the nation’s cats before tinned pet food was developed, however top chefs and leading supermarkets have changed all that, championing it as a good alternative to cod. Coley is brilliant in fish pies and cakes and also eaten salted and smoked.
Hake - July
Hake is closely related to cod but separated by its long slender body. Hake has a mild flavor with a medium but firm textured meat and is best poached with lemon juice. The European hake is found in waters close to home and the most sustainable choice is MSC certified European hake from Cornwall.
Mackerel - August
Mackerel is full of omega-3 and rumoured to improve brain power so an ideal starter fish for kids! Mackerel is a fast swimming sliver and blue striped fish, related to tuna. Mackerel is best eaten fresh and can be grilled smoked or fried. Choose MSC certified handline caught mackerel from South West England.
Sardines - September
With the Autumn season setting in September, it’s time to make the most of the final BBQ’s of the summer. Sardines are a BBQ favourite and usually cooked whole on the BBQ or ovenbaked.
Rich in omega-3, sardines are an oily fish with a strong flavor. Young pilchards are often referred to as sardines and are named after the Mediterranean island of Sardinia where they once lived in abundance. Choose MSC certified sardines from Cornwall to support local sustainable fish sources and enjoy them at their seasonal best!
For more information about seasonal fish, check out the Marine Conservation Society’s Fish of the Month page.
If you want to find out the best fish to choose in a restaurant or out in the supermarket download the Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide app, which gives the best choices for fresh, wild caught fish that are rated at 1, 2, or 3.
Buy fish during the ‘green’ months which are outside the breeding season and the best time to enjoy eating them.
If you can’t see your fish listed on our seasonal guide it could be farmed. Farmed fish are available all year round so seasonality doesn’t apply, just make sure you follow our ratings to make the best choice.
Look out for Eco-labels such as the Marine Stewardship Council for wild-caught fish and Aquaculture Stewardship Council for farmed fish.Organic farmed fish are also a good choice and the Freedom Foods label indicates high welfare standards for farmed fish.
This World Oceans Day, and in the summer months to come, you can use the Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide - it’s online, on paper or on mobile app - to help you choose sustainable and seasonal seafood.
When buying fresh fish make sure you look out for eco-labels such as the Marine Stewardship Council for wild-caught fish and Aquaculture Stewardship Council for farmed fish.