Blog Sustainable Seafood

Love seafood? Find out how to eat it sustainably.

by Sascha Rust, GoodFish manager April 16, 2019

Seafood markets, fishmongers, supermarkets and restaurants give us stacks of seafood choices for our plates, but how do we make the right choices that will protect our oceans and keep our fisheries sustainable?

There’s a lot to consider. How is the species caught?  Where is it from? Is that species already being overfished? How do I find out? How should I cook it?

Follow our easy steps to make sustainable food choices with your seafood.

1. Choose a green listed species! 

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide is a free and handy tool that gives you a simple way to know the best seafood to buy that’s kinder to the oceans and covers more than 90 per cent of the seafood eaten in Australia. The guide has three colour-coded classifications, where you can choose from our green-listed “Better Choice” species and  “Say No” to red-listed species or “Eat Less” from an amber list.The guide is based on in-depth scientific assessments by the Australian Marine Conservation Society. By choosing green-listed seafood from the Guide, you can be confident that you are eating a fish that is abundantly found and  carefully fished – making it a sustainable choice!

2. Try something new and cook a fish you may not recognise!

Many of us have lost confidence in trying new foods and cooking different types of fish, but it is actually one of the easiest things you can do. Almost all fish when cooked over a medium heat for a short amount of time with just simply salt and lemon juice will end up being delicious. For instance Sardines are great quickly grilled on the bbq and lightly battered King George whiting is spectacular when shallow fried in a little oil.

3. Learn to ask the right questions

Your chef or fishmonger is the expert so ask them the right questions!

How was it caught or farmed? The way it is caught is not necessarily the only thing that matters, but it is important to know. For instance, trawl caught species like prawns are a problem in QLD and NSW while farmed barramundi is a highly sustainable fish.

Is this species overfished? Well managed Australian fisheries generally report catch amounts so if your fishmonger seem unsure or do not know, be cautious and choose something else. Check with Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide and if the rating is different, have a chat to them about it to share the knowledge.

Where is it from? Location matters because different fisheries around Australia operate differently. For instance, prawns from QLD are overfished while prawns from Spencer Gulf in South Australia are a green-list species. Likewise, Pink Snapper from Port Phillip Bay in Victoria is highly sustainable, however, Pink Snapper from QLD it is red-listed and needs to be given a rest to recover. Remember, it is all about making choices from fisheries that operate a little better than others.

Is it a deep sea, slow-growing or long lived species? These species, like Orange Roughy, take a long time to regenerate after they have been fished, therefore the impact of heavy fishing today may take many years or more to properly recover. We need to be extra careful with these species and for now should be avoiding these all together.

Remember, Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide can answer all these questions too.

4. Swap bad for better.

Any red-listed fish can be substituted for something sustainable.

What you love:  Sustainable Alternative: 
QLD King Prawns Farmed QLD prawns or wild King Prawns from Spencer Gulf, South Australia
Tasmanian Salmon King Salmon from New Zealand, often called the wagyu of the sea, it has an amazing texture and flavour.
Blue-fin, Big-eye Tuna Spanish Mackerel as a unique alternative, or in small amounts, Yellowfin or Albacore Tuna.
Moreton Bay Bugs
Blue Swimmer Crab or the much more rarely eaten Mud Crab.
Trawler caught Scallops
Hand-dived Scallops, just as easy to cook and much higher quality.
Kingfish Try farmed Cobia, almost identical in flavour and texture to kingfish, but much more sustainable.

5. Educate Yourself

By asking questions, using Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide, and engaging with recipes of unfamiliar but sustainable fish, you are educating yourself and others about our amazing oceans.

Our oceans are a beautiful and incredible resource that have an amazing resilience. If make sustainable seafood choices, we can ensure that we have healthy oceans to hand over to our children, and their children after to enjoy.

6. Buy less to decrease your food waste!

We love hosting parties over holiday periods like Easter and Christmas to bring together family and friends but nothing is worse than perfectly good food ending up in the bin. This is such a shame. Remember, fish comes from a very sensitive marine environment so to ensure that we have healthy oceans forever, try to buy less to avoid having to put it in the bin!