How easy is it to buy sustainable fish?



Here at Easy Green Towers we are keen supporters of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his incredibly successful campaign, the Big Fish Fight.

As well as the on screen and online campaign which aims to educate the nation on making sustainable fish choices, the brains behind the Big Fish Fight have also recently released a free app to help people know which fish to choose and which fish to avoid.

The app also comes with 50 free recipes using sustainable fish and a map to help you find restaurant serving sustainable fish. For those of you without a smart phone the app is also available as a .pdf so there is no excuse not to try i

So far so good, but how easy is it to actually source the fish for the recipes?

Easy Green Towers is located in a land-locked village north of the Watford Gap. Fishmongers are few and far between, so like most of you out there, if we want to buy fish we have to get it in the supermarket. I did a search for sustainable fish on four of the major supermarkets on-line grocery stores and was quite disheartened at the findings.

The first problem I came across was choice. None of the supermarkets I looked at provided a huge choice, with Asda only providing a choice of three types of fresh fish. However, the biggest difficulty came when trying to work out where the fish for sale was caught. Some fish like cod, salmon, haddock, herring and tuna are only considered sustainable if they have come from certain places and/or have been caught in certain ways. Online Tesco provide little or no information about where the fish came from or how it was caught. Waitrose provided more information for most of their fish products such as caught by rod or line, but not for all products. Asda only had cod, haddock and salmon available on their fresh fish counter and although two lots of cod were described as line-caught none of the fish were labelled with their origin. Sainsbury’s didn’t have a great choice, but some did have the MSC label on them so it was easier to see what was sustainable and what was not.

None of the supermarkets looked at offered a search for MSC certified fish, although several of the supermarkets did sell fish that fell into this category. All of them offered the ability to search for organic products and Waitrose offered a search for Fair Trade, but not all sustainable fish would fall into these categories.

Overall, I think the Fish Fight app is great (the Lemon Sole with Lemon Zest Mash got a big thumbs up in my house). However, for those of us relying on supermarkets for our main shop (and let’s face it that is most of us) trying to do the right thing is time-consuming because the information you need to make those choices isn’t easily available.

There are over 600,000 people signed up to Fish Fight in the UK, so a lot of people out there care about this issue. Supermarkets need to make it easier for us to make the choice to buy sustainable fish.

None of the supermarkets I looked at offered a huge choice. We found that the best choice to be had on-line was at The Fish Society which offers over 200 types of fish and shell fish, which they deliver freshly frozen fish to the UK (and overseas as well).

Friends of the Queen of Easy Green, the Fish Society has kindly agreed to offer all of our readers an exclusive 10% on all orders over £65. Simply enter the code QEG in their procode box, but hurry, the offer is only valid until 31 Dec (perfect timing for Christmas shopping!).

So why don’t you take the Fish Fight challenge and try something different and sustainable today. Leave us a comment and let us know how you get on.