Seafood Labels and Initiatives
We recognise that many of the larger outlets (supermarkets etc) do not stock Dorset seafood, so what should you look for when buying seafood generally?
Probably the first thing to say is that you may not get much information from the label. For whole fish and fillets you should be able to see what species it is, whether it was farmed or wild-caught and (roughly) where it was caught. There is no legal requirement for outlets to tell you how it was caught.
Wild-caught or farmed?
Any seafood should be clearly labelled whether it is harvested from the wild or raised in fish-farms. Most seafish are carnivorous, so farming them requires catching fish to feed them on. Fish-farming is not a simple solution to over-fishing. Look for the organic soil association label on farmed fish as well as using fewer chemicals, the fish are fed on more sustainably sourced food, such as leftovers from fish processed for human consumption, rather than small fish caught specifically as fish-food.
Supermarkets are increasingly using “responsibly sourced” or “responsibly caught” descriptions on their seafood. This indicates that supermarkets recognise that the public are beginning to care about where their seafood comes from, but there is no standard, agreed definition of “responsible”. Most supermarkets now have their own policy on sourcing seafood.
Dolphin friendly/dolphin safe tuna
Dolphin friendly labels were a big success and implied that you could eat the product with a clear conscience. However, a product labelled dolphin-friendly could still be produced using a capture method that affects turtles, sharks and seabirds, which makes buying and eating tuna, one of our favourite seafoods, a bit of an eco-moral minefield. Look for pole and line caught tuna. This indicates that the tuna has been caught by a single hand held pole and line.
Consumer Fish Guides
MCS have spent a huge amount of effort researching the environmental impacts of various fisheries and provide information on pretty much every combination of species and capture method you are likely to come across. If this is too much information, they have produced a pocket guide with fish to buy, fish to think about and fish to avoid.
If you’re not sure, ask your supplier.
Pisces Responsible Fish Restaurants
Pisces Responsible Fish Restaurants is a restaurant-led initiative that seeks out and links good fishermen with chefs. While much has been said about sustainable fisheries, practical issues still make it difficult for chefs to get better fish onto plates.
They evaluate both the fish currently used by a restaurant and the potential alternatives, scoring for the eating quality of the fish, the fairness of the trading relationship between the restaurant and the fishers, and the sustainability of the fisheries.
Marine Stewardship Council
An independent charity, established in 1997 the Marine Stewardship Council is a world-wide certification and ecolabelling programme for sustainable fisheries. Individual fisheries are rigorously assessed by independent third-party certifiers against MSC’s three principles of sustainability:
If they get certified, fish products can carry the distinctive blue logo. There are over 50 MSC certified fisheries in the UK, but none currently in Dorset.
Great Dorset Seafood Registered Trademark
Seabass by Paul Naylor
Rod and line caught mackerel
Pot caught spider crab by Emma Rance
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