Greenpeace have provided a ‘red list’ of endangered sea fish species – these are species from all over the world that have been fished to the extent that they are approaching total stock collapse, or, in some cases in danger of becoming extinct in the wild. If you catch any of the fish on the list below think: do you really need to take them, or could you release them back into the sea? For the more exotic fish on the list keep an eye out for them on sale at fishmongers and supermarkets or see if they are on the menus of restaurants. Feel free to question anyone supplying these fish about why they are selling species and challenge them about their commitment to achieving sustainable fisheries.
- Atlantic cod (except cod from Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, and line-caught Icelandic)
- Tuna including Albacore, Yellowtail, Bigeye and Bluefin (but excluding Skipjack)
- Tropical prawns (both wild and farmed)
- Haddock (except line-caught Icelandic)
- European Hake
- Atlantic Halibut
- Patagonian Toothfish (often sold as Chilean Sea Bass)
- Orange Roughy (often sold as Deep Sea Perch)
- Atlantic salmon (wild and farmed)
- Blue Grenadier (also sold as Hoki, Whiptail and Blue Hake)
- Sharks (including Spurdog and Bull Huss – also be aware of anything called ‘rock salmon’ as this is often another name for small shark, especially Spurdog).
- Skates and rays
Also be aware of the methods used to catch fish. Any fish that has been caught by beam trawling should be avoided as this method of commercial fishing is highly destructive to the marine environment. The same is true of shellfish that have been caught by dredging (read more about commercial fishing methods such as these here). Line caught fish, or fish caught in static nets are always the best choice as these methods do not damage the environment in the way that trawling does. Pressure can also be taken off the overfished stocks of popular fish such as cod and haddock by eating a wider variety of species, as long as these species fished for in a sustainable way. These include coalfish and pollack (the population of which is stable when compared to cod), dab and gurnard (as these used to be thrown away as bycatch and by eating them they will gain commercial value and not be wasted in this way), mackerel (as this is not caught by bottom trawling, although Iceland and the Faroe Islands are doing their best to overfish this species), and oysters (as these can be farmed and stocks kept stable in this way). In all cases fish that are line caught are a much better option to any kind of trawling.
Additionally, the Channel 4 programme Hugh’s Fish Fight provide this link to a diagram of the worldwide fish species which are okay to eat.