How do you like your fish? Baked, grilled…or battered with chips? The health benefits of fish are well known- it’s recommended that we eat two servings a week, and one of those to be oily fish, for a balanced and healthy diet. But fish stocks worldwide are in trouble due to overfishing of popular species, and destructive fishing techniques that result in tonnes of bycatch and waste. Many fisheries are in decline, and if the trend continues we may well have no fish left for the future.

However, it’s possible to enjoy the health benefits and delicious taste of fish without the guilt, if you look for more sustainable fish options. This article will give you some tips on how to get your Omega-3s while protecting the ocean’s fragile fish stocks, so your great-grandchildren can share your passion for fish and chips too!


Sustainable fish is better for you

Researchers at the University of Arizona have found that sustainable fish tend to be better for your health, as they contain lower levels of mercury than big, long lived species like tuna, swordfish and orange roughy- which are often overfished and vulnerable to decline or extinction. This makes sustainable fish a wise choice.


Which fish should I choose?

The blue Marine Stewardship Council ecolabel is found on sustainably sourced fish in supermarkets and fishmongers. This makes it easy to find fish that come from well-managed and responsible fisheries. Sainsbury’s , Waitrose and Lidl are the three biggest stockists of MSC-certified fish in the UK. You can also head to your local fishmonger. Ask for locally sourced fish caught using non-destructive techniques, like pole-and-line fishing.

Here’s some tasty options to get you started:


Line-caught Mackerel

Mackerel, like other oily fish is packed with heart-shielding Omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s also rich in B vitamins and Vitamin D. Mackerel is related to tuna and has a a delicious creamy texture.

Try this summery Delia Smith recipe for Cornish line-caught mackerel with salsa verde.

Sustainability rating: 4/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆



Dab is a type of flatfish with a sweet and succulent taste and texture similar to sole and plaice. Choose fish caught using seine nets as these have the least environmental impact.

Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute Mediterranean-style dab is a quick and easy weekday meal.

Sustainability rating: 4/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


Farmed Arctic char

Although slightly on the pricey side, farmed Arctic char is a rich-tasting yet healthy oily fish choice, and makes an excellent substitute for salmon when you’re looking for something a bit fancy. It’s farmed in the UK, Scotland and Iceland and is very environmentally friendly as its feed is sustainably sourced.

Try this gorgeously simple Martha Stewart recipe for seared soy sesame Arctic char for a special occasion.

Sustainability rating: 5/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


European Hake

Hake is tasty white fish with small, sweet flakes, which pairs well with smoky, rich flavours, or served simply poached with lemon juice to bring out its natural sweetness.

Take a look at this BBC recipe: Smoky hake with beans and greens.

Sustainability rating: 4/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

If you want to find other options, there’s loads of great online resources which make choosing and cooking sustainable fish easy. This Marine Conservation Society guide has recommendations for seasonally available fresh fish for each month of the year. There’s also an excellent mobile app which can be used on the go to see whether a particular fish checks out. Download it here.

For more sustainable fish-specific recipes, look at BBC Food’s recipe recommendations by fish restaurateur Malcolm John. Bon appétit!