Why sustainable fish?

On the Black Isle we’re surrounded by the sea, and although these days very little fish is landed in our harbours, fish is still a local resource, and it can be exploited in a sustainable way – although it isn’t always. Around the world, 90% of fisheries are fully- or over-exploited, and they also face additional pressure from climate change, ocean acidification and pollution, so we should take care to choose wisely!

The common skate, for instance, is more endangered than the snow leopard. And fish farming can also be problematic – carnivorous farmed fish, like salmon, are usually fed large quantities of fish meal which itself comes from wild fish, and high concentrations of farmed fish lead to problems with pollution and parasites.

Fortunately, there are a few easy steps we can take to minimise the damage fishing causes:

  1. Mix it up a bit

    Try hake, coley, pouting or whiting instead of cod, and rather than tuna, buy herring, mackerel, sardines or sprat – all great options to get your fix of omega 3! And don’t forget about dab – a truly underrated flatfish species.
  2. Low impact

    Buy seafood caught in a more environmentally friendly way - handline, pole and line, trap or pot or dive caught - or from fisheries using best practice to reduce discards and habitat impacts.
  3. Know your fish!

    Buy local. Make friends with a fishmonger in the know or try food box delivery schemes. When shopping for fish look for information in store and on labels to check sustainability, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Know what you’re eating - If you can’t get the info you need, give it a miss!
  4. Avoid eating threatened species

    Species like; common skate, bluefin tuna, wild seabass and shark. Deep sea species are often long lived and slow growing and vulnerable to overfishing. Fishing for them can also ruin coldwater corals which may never recover.
  5. In or out of season?

    Avoid breeding or spawning times, and egg-bearing (berried) lobster or crab. Immature fish should be avoided to allow them to breed. Visit good­fishguide.org for seasonality and sizing info.
  6. Label logic

    Look for the following eco-labels – they’re better environmental choices for...

    Sustainably fished:
    Sustainably fished
    Responsively farmed:
    Responsively farmed:
    Higher welfare standards:
    RSPCA Monitored
  7. Buying farmed fish? Go organic

    Organic farms tend to allow fish more room to move, they have higher environmental standards and use responsibly sourced feed.

  8. Find out more!

    The Marine Conservation Society has much more information on their website, www.goodfishguide.org – you can even download an app to get the best, most up-to-date advice on which species are endangered, and which can be eaten without threatening their numbers.
Find Your Local Food
Directory Search

Eating seasonally

  • Why not ask your local shopkeeper or market stallholders to recommend the best of what’s fresh now? 
  • Go on a nature walk, but take along a wild food book instead of a wildlife guide.   
Out of Date?

If you think we've missed something from this page or that something needs to be updated, please get in touch and let us know.