MCS urges use of less popular fish species

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

The Marine Conservation Society has advised consumers to move away from fish such as salmon and cod
The Marine Conservation Society has advised consumers to move away from fish such as salmon and cod
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has urged buyers and consumers to diversify their choice of fish and move away from the UK’s traditional top five of cod, tuna, salmon, haddock and prawns.

It said that, as the UK prepares to leave the EU and fisheries talks get underway, it was time to help the marine environment by choosing less popular and underutilised species.  

The organisation has updated its online Good Fish Guide​ that identifies types of fish that are the most sustainable choices.


It suggested alternatives including: Megrim from Rockall, northern North Sea and West of Scotland; North Sea line and trap-caught or UK farmed turbot; line-caught pollack from the Celtic Sea; lemon sole, netted from the North Sea and eastern English Channel; and queen scallops, traditionally caught in the Fal Estuary in Cornwall.

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

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.” 


The charity said consumption of new species would help encourage demand for the most sustainable and local seafood, and reduce the amount of fish exported in favour of developing UK markets.  
“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,” ​said Clarke.

The MCS Best Choice Top 10

  1. Dab, seine netted in the North Sea
  2. 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 

Related topics: Supply Chain, Meat, poultry & seafood

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