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MCS Updates Advice to Consumers of Fish

Aug 22,2006 SACN

More Eco-Friendly Fish Available to Consumers 

Today the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) launches its latest online guide to buying eco-friendly fish at http://www.fishonline.org , the one-stop-shop for consumers concerned about the sustainability of the fish they eat.

The website provides information for 150 species of seafood, with revised lists of ‘Fish to Eat’ with a clearer conscience, and ‘Fish to Avoid’ from unsustainable and damaging fisheries.  A handy Pocket Good Fish Guide has also been produced, and is available free from MCS.

Fishermen from the South West are leading the way with several species caught in the area now listed as ‘Fish to Eat’, including: pilchards or sardines from Cornish waters, fished using a traditional method known as ‘ring-netting’; pot-caught crab from waters off Start Point, Devon; and line-caught and tagged pollack and seabass from Cornwall.

Species new to the “Fish to Avoid” list include: the European eel, as stocks are at an all-time low and closure of the fishery is recommended; anchovy from the Bay of Biscay; langoustine from North and North West Spain and the Portuguese Coast; and herring and Greenland halibut from overfished stocks.

 “Consumers concerned about the impact of their seafood choices on the marine environment now have an even greater choice of eco-friendly fish,” says Bernadette Clarke, MCS Fisheries Officer.

“MCS anticipates that our Fish to Eat List will continue to grow as public awareness of the importance of sustainability increases and fishermen respond to demand by developing more selective and sustainable fisheries”.

New farmed species on the ‘Fish to Eat’ list include abalone, organically farmed cod, and tilapia. Dawn Purchase, MCS Mariculture Officer says “As with the capture industry, the aquaculture industry is continuing to make progress towards improving its overall environmental performance. MCS aims to highlight those producers within the industry that are leading the way by farming to higher environmental standards”.

A new MCS Pocket Good Fish Guide, featuring the 2006 lists of fish to eat and fish to avoid, can be obtained FREE - send a SAE to MCS, call 01989 566017, e-mail info@mcsuk.org or download a copy from the http://www.fishonline.org website.

MCS has expanded the http://www.fishonline.org website to include: a guide to when fish breed, to help consumers avoid buying fish during their breeding seasons; a comparison of the effects of different fishing gears on the marine ecosystem; a guide to where to buy fish in the supermarkets listed as Fish to Eat; and additional information on farmed fish and other species.

The site and the Fish to Eat and Fish to Avoid list have been updated with the latest scientific advice available on sustainability, from international scientific organisations such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).



 Bernadette Clarke, Fisheries Officer: Telephone:  01989 566017 bclarke@mcsuk.org

 Dawn Purchase, Mariculture Officer: Telephone: 0131 226 3113 dawn@mcsuk.org

 Bryce Beukers-Stewart, Fisheries Officer 01989 561 604 bryce@mcsuk.org

 Richard Harrington, Communications Manager: Telephone: 01989 566017


Marine Conservation Society

Wolf Business Park

Alton Road, Ross-on-Wye

Herefordshire HR9 5NB


Editor’s notes:

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK charity dedicated to the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife. 

MCS campaigns for clean seas and beaches, sustainable fisheries, protection of marine life and their habitats, and the sensitive use of our marine resources for future generations. 

Through education, community involvement and collaboration, MCS raises awareness of the many threats that face our seas and promotes individual, industry and government action to protect the marine environment.

MCS provides information and guidance on many aspects of marine conservation and produces the annual Good Beach Guide ( http://www.goodbeachguide.co.uk ), the Good Fish Guide and http://www.fishonline.org on sustainable seafood, as well as promoting public participation in volunteer projects and surveys such as Beachwatch, Adopt-a-Beach and Basking Shark Watch. http://www.mcsuk.org

MCS Fish to Eat and Fish to Avoid lists are generated by assessing the relative health of each fish stock, and the sustainability of the various fishing methods used.

MCS has given nearly 150 fish a rating from 1 to 5 that allows the user to identify the status and sustainability of each fish at a glance.

A rating of 5 (Fish to Avoid) is given to those fish that MCS recommends be avoided because they are overfished; vulnerable to exploitation; poorly managed; and whose method of harvesting causes bycatch (capture of dolphins, sharks, seabirds and non-target fish) and/or damage to the seabed.

A rating of 1 and 2 (Fish to Eat) is awarded to the most sustainably harvested seafood including fish from certified fisheries.

Ratings 3 and 4 indicate increasing levels of concern regarding the status of the fish stock, or the environmental impact of the fishing method used to catch them.

A pocket Good Fish Guide featuring the Fish to Eat and Fish to Avoid lists is available from MCS at 01989 566017 / info@mcsuk.org on receipt of a SAE. 

 http://www.fishonline.org is the comprehensive and highly acclaimed MCS website on sustainable seafood.

The website has a Simple and an Advanced search function, depending on the detail of information required by the consumer about each fish.

As well as entries for nearly 150 different species and stocks, the site includes information on status of fish stocks, impacts of fishing and labelling schemes.

There is also a glossary with definitions for terminology that users may not be familiar with and a guide to the different fishing methods used and their impacts. Maps of the world's fishing areas are also included.

New features added in 2006 include a guide to when fish breed; a comparison of the effects of different fishing gears; a guide to where to buy fish from the Fish to Eat list; and additional information on farmed fish and other species.

The FISHonline website was originally designed by Juniperblue, with the financial support of Marks & Spencers plc, and first launched in August 2004.

MCS is grateful the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust for their support in 2006 of the MCS programme to promote sustainable seafood.


BBC Report


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