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There’s always a catch when it comes to sustainable seafood

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Latest Marine Conservation Society seafood ratings highlight why consumers must demand more information

Seafood is a tasty and popular choice whether chosen off the menu, at the supermarket or down the chip shop, and consumers are increasingly aware of the need to buy sustainably.

But, in the absence of clear labelling, working out if you’re making the best choice for fish stocks is a real minefield says the charity that publishes the online Good Fish Guide – www.goodfishguide.com – the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

MCS says the key to making the right seafood choices is understanding what it is, where it is from and how it is caught or farmed, and using the charity’s Good Fish Guide website, app and pocket guide is the only way to get the full story on seafood sustainability.

The latest version of the guide, published today, shows how important it is for consumers to take the time to use the tools on offer to make sustainable choices when it comes to choosing fish.

The guide uses a simple 5-step rating system to identify fish sustainability –  where 1 is a Best Choice, and 5 is a Fish to Avoid.

For instance, lobster, popular in a thermidor or served on its own with salad trimmings, may sound like a safe bet if the label says (though likely it won’t) that it was pot caught off the south west coast, but in fact this is rated 3 and an OK (yellow) choice with some room for improvement. But other lobster fisheries around Scotland, Wales and England are generally over fished with no catch limits, and there is no protection for egg-bearing females, in Wales and Scotland. This leaves animals from those fisheries rated as ones you need to consider carefully before eating (rated 4 – amber – requires improvement) as they are some way from being sustainably caught and require significant improvements to the fisheries.

Bernadette Clarke, MCS Good Fish Guide Programme Manager says: “Choosing sustainable seafood is a complex issue not helped by a lack of clear labelling on most seafood products. That lack of information means that consumers need all the help they can get. Using the Good Fish Guide will point people in the right direction and start the sustainability conversation with the fishmonger or restaurant. If consumers can start asking ‘Is that sustainable?’, seafood suppliers will need to have an answer.

Other popular seafood with updated ratings in the latest Good Fish Guide are:

Squid, now a trendy starter on many menus and available at the seafood counter and freezer sections of larger supermarkets, are also a mixed bag when it comes to consumer choice. Eleven squid fisheries have either been updated or rated for the first time in the 2018 Good Fish Guide and whilst jig caught squid – a highly selective method – from the English Channel and Scotland are 3 rated (OK), elsewhere, squid have a 5 rating due to a combination of factors including limited stock assessment and poor management – making them a Fish to Avoid.

Dover sole, often seen as a bit of treat eaten only in high end restaurants, is actually a green rated (2 Good Choice) fish for all from the western English Channel, Cornwall or Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified from the North Sea. But if the sole on your plate comes trawled from the Irish Sea, or electric-pulse trawled from the North Sea, then it shouldn’t be on your plate at all (rated 5, Red).

Haddock is a fish shop favourite and the newly rated Rockall fishery has been rated 1 for the first time by the Good Fish Guide meaning it’s a great, guilt-free ‘Best Choice’.  Haddock from the North Sea and West of Scotland have improved from 3 to 2 meaning it can again be considered a Good Choice after fishing pressure has continued to reduce  and the stocks size continues to increase.

However, if you shun fast foods assuming a fish burger may be nothing more than the scrapings off the factory floor, think again. Fast-food giant McDonalds uses Alaskan Pollock in its Filet O Fish and a quick glance at the Good Fish Guide reveals this is a ‘Best Choice’ rated 1 and is MSC certified.

MCS says it’s vital that the public, chefs, retailers and fish buyers keep referring to the Good Fish Guide website, the Pocket Good Fish Guide or the app version on iPhone or android, to ensure they have the most up-to-date sustainable seafood advice.

MCS sustainable seafood work is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Hazel Johnstone, Senior Programme Manager within the charities team at People’s Postcode Lottery, says: “With this guide, Marine Conservation Society is making it easier for people to identify where fish has come from and whether it’s sustainable. This initiative, which players of People’s Postcode Lottery have been supporting for the past few years, is helping consumers to make an informed decision before they buy seafood. The fact that the guide’s available on different platforms makes it easily accessible, which is great.”

Check out www.goodfishguide.com for more.

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Jo Cutler, a contestant in the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-large, chats to Jo Cutler, a contestant in the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition. The See you at the Sea Festival was an online film festival created by young people, for young people.

Jo’s film – An Evolving Story – can be seen here:

Fifth in a series of six videos about the competition. Watch the first video HERE with Jenn Sandiford – Youth Engagement Officer with the Your Shore Beach Rangers Project and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust – to find out more about the Competition. Each day this week will be sharing one video in which Jeff talks with the young contestants about their films and what inspired them.


For more information please visit:

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Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Stephan Whelan

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Next in a new series of podcasts shared by our friends Gemma and Ian aka The BiG Scuba Podcast…

Ian and Gemma chat to Stephan Whelan.  Stephan is the Founder and Publisher of DeeperBlue.com. His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years-old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans and led him to become one of the leading figures in the diving media industry.

Stephan got bitten by the diving bug early in life. His first scuba experience was a try-dive when he was eight years old on a family holiday in Europe, and from that moment, he was addicted. He learned to dive properly with BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) as soon as he could at school and then did his BSAC Assistant Instructor when he turned 16. By the time he was heading to university in 1996, he was hooked on teaching and diving as much as he could.

By the time he started studying at university, he decided to have a go at flexing his web-design skills by publishing some of the stories he had built up about various ‘challenging’ students and dives he had encountered, and so deeperblue.net (as it was known then) was created. He published numerous personal stories until 1998 when other writers began enquiring about contributing to the site with their tales, and it was at this moment he decided to make it more like a magazine format and began asking for volunteer helpers. He got a couple of editors on board, and plenty of writers began contributing.

DeeperBlue.com (or DB as it’s become to be known) is now one of the most-popular diving websites in the world and has grown to publish over 9,000 articles covering all sorts of topics like Freediving, Scuba Diving, Ocean Advocacy, and Diving Travel all the while keeping over half-a-million passionate divers from the diving community connected every month through the forums, large social media following, mobile app, and recently launched podcast.

WEB: deeperblue.com

FB: facebook.com/deeperbluedotcom

IG: instagram.com/deeperbluegram

Twitter: twitter.com/deeperblue

YouTube: youtube.com/deeperbluevideo

App: deeperblue.com/app/

Podcast: deeperblue.com/podcast/


Find more podcast episodes and information at www.thebigscuba.com and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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