Not all fish are caught equal. Forest and Bird in New Zealand have produced a consumer guide that shows the sustainability of eating different types of commercial fish and takes into account the state of fish stocks, the amount of seabird, marine mammal and non-target fish by-catch, the damage done to marine habitats and other ecological effects caused by the fishing to decide on its rating.
Best Fish Guide
Forest and Bird has issued an update of its popular, and very useful, Best Fish Guide. The guide takes into account the state of fish stocks, the amount of seabird, marine mammal and non-target fish by-catch, the damage done to marine habitats and other ecological effects caused by the fishing to decide on its rating.
It’s a tool that empowers the consumer to make an informed choice about their seafood the Best Fish Guide is a ‘litmus test’ of each fish species’ sustainability. Forest and Bird says
“Making the best seafood choice is not easy. All fishing has an impact. We urge you to use this guide to help make more informed choices when buying seafood… Our combined buying power can help take pressure off the most over-exploited species and alleviate the harm caused by the most damaging fisheries. Our choices can also influence government policies, change fishing practices and help ensure that fisheries are managed sustainably.”
The Best and the Worst
New Zealand’s most ecologically sustainable fisheries are generally those with low-impact fishing methods, targeting species with a low vulnerability to fishing, or caught in well-managed fisheries. The highest-ranking fisheries representing the best seafood choices are anchovies, pilchards and sprats. Close behind, still offering a good seafood choice, are skipjack tuna, garfish, cockles and kina.
A number of commercially caught species have moved up the Best Fish Guide rankings, including hoki, blue cod, trevally, packhorse lobster and red gurnard.
The worst-ranking fisheries are orange roughy and porbeagle shark, followed by oreo/deepwater dory, southern bluefin tuna, mako shark, snapper, blue shark and black cardinalfish. These fish represent a poor seafood choice and should be avoided.
You can download the handy wallet-sized guide so that you can check it when shopping for fish. You can also download the full ecological assessment and the assessment methodology. On this site you will also find information about the different commercial fish species as well as recipes and a guide to different fishing methods.