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Swap fish favourites for dab, hake and herring, diners urged

The Marine Conservation Society suggests consumers move away from the traditional ‘top five’ to more unusual choices for their fish supper.

Consumers are being urged to move from traditional fish favourites such as cod and tuna to more unusual options to help the seas and UK fishing industry.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has updated its Good Fish Guide, detailing which are the best fish to eat in terms of sustainability, with some new “best choice” additions that could be the fish suppers of the future.

And the organisation says that as the UK prepares to leave the EU and fisheries talks are expected to try to secure a bigger share of the fish post-Brexit, now may be the time to swap out the big five for new options.

UK consumers tend to favour cod, salmon, haddock, tuna and prawns, but the MCS has drawn up a post-Brexit top 10 which include fish that the charity says taste great but are not household names.

Choosing from a wider range takes pressure off individual fisheries and encourages demand for the most sustainable and local seafood, reducing the amount of fish exported in favour of developing UK markets, the MCS said.

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(Richard Harrington Marine Conservation Society)

The “best choice” top 10 includes dab, seine netted in the North Sea, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified hake from Cornwall and MSC certified herring from the Irish, Celtic and North seas, south west Ireland and eastern English Channel.

Also on the list are some types of sustainably caught mackerel, megrim, UK rope-grown mussels, Devon brown crab, traditionally caught queen scallops, pollack and Dover sole.

Bernadette Clarke, MCS Good Fish Guide programme manager, said: “Although they may not trip off the tongue like cod, mackerel and plaice, these could, and should be, the fish supper of the future.

“UK consumers tend to stick to their tried and tested top five – both in taste and familiarity but not always sustainability.

“Cod, tuna, salmon, haddock and prawns, from the right sources are all OK, but there’s so much more to explore and the new additions to the best choice list are a good place to start.”

And she said: “We are currently exporting around 75% of fish caught and landed in the UK, but we’re the ninth largest importer of fish in the world with around 70% of the seafood value entering the UK fish supply chain coming from overseas.

“By choosing more sustainable sources and keeping it local it will help reduce wasting wild caught fish that are discarded dead because they have less value.

“By choosing from a wider range we’ll be putting far less  stress on individual fisheries,” she added.

Elsewhere on the Good Fish Guide updates, MSC certified brown crab from Shetland and Orkney, MSC certified sardine ring-netted in Cornwall and harpooned swordfish move off the best choice list.

Red mullet, wild seabass from Biscay and Atlantic bigeye are among the fisheries sliding down on to the red list of fish to avoid, while undulate ray from the English Channel, albacore from the Mediterranean and bigeye from western central Pacific Ocean have moved off the red list.

The MCS Best Choice Top 10 are:
1. Dab, seine netted in the North Sea;
2. Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified hake from Cornwall;
3. MSC certified herring from Irish, Celtic and North Seas, SW Ireland and Eastern English Channel;
4. Mackerel, handlined in the south-west of England, and Minsa (Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance) North East Atlantic MSC certified;
5. Megrim from the Northern North Sea and West of Scotland;
6. UK rope-grown mussels;
7. Brown crab from Devon Inshore Potting Area, Western Channel;
8. Queen scallops from the Fal Estuary, fished by traditional sail and oar method;
9. Pollack handlined from the Celtic sea;
10. Sole, Dover from the Western Channel.

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