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Taste The Ocean

Sustainable fish and seafood

How can you, as a consumer, choose the most sustainable fish and seafood options available on the market?  Here are 5 tips for you.

1) Respect the seasonality

Fishing vessel ©Bernard GIRARDIN/Adobe Stock

Seafood seasonality varies according to the time of the year when fish are most abundant.

Seasonality varies per each species and where it is fished, so always check before you buy: you may find calendars with information about the seasonality of fish & seafood in your area!

2) Buy seafood of sufficient size

When it comes to fish, size matters.

The EU’s fisheries policy and national laws put strict standards in place to avoid the commercialisation of fish below the minimum size.

Make sure you buy fish that is big enough.

For example, the minimum size for plaice in the North Sea is 27 cm.

3) Buy local

Fisherman with a fish box © curto / Adobe Stock

Choose to buy local seafood is a great move: it means the fish is fresh and has travelled only a short distance, minimising its CO2 footprint.

4) Look for freshness

Plaice on a plate

Is your fish fresh?

You’re on the right track if

  • the eyes of the fish are plump and bright
  • the fish doesn’t smell sour or ammonia-like but rather fresh and mildly briny
  • its flesh is firm
  • it has red gills with no smell

Like all other products, freshness is key for a fish and guarantees its quality, taste and ability to be consumed.

5) Check the labels 

Man buying frozen fish in a supermarket© bodnarphoto / Adobe Stock

In the EU, your fish and seafood come with a lot of information. Why? To enhance transparency and help consumers make the most informed choices possible.

Labels on fisheries and aquaculture products must display

  • the commercial and scientific name of the fish
  • the production method, to let you if the fish was caught at sea, in freshwater or was farmed
  • where the fish was caught or farmed. For fish caught at sea, the label displays a code identifying the catch area. Do you need a hand to understand it better?  Here is a map to help you!
  • which fishing gear was used to catch the fish. The type of fishing gear used is very important when we look at the impact on the marine ecosystem. Selective gear helps fishing only the species and sizes you are targeting, and thereby avoids by-catch (i.e. unintentional catch of marine animals and birds)
  • if the product has been defrosted
  • ‘Best before’ date / ‘Use by’ date, to make sure you consume safe food

Special rules apply to prepacked and processed products. Check out our pocket guide to become a true master of labels!

Quality labels

Even though there is no single EU quality label for fish and seafood, some aquaculture products carry the EU organic logo. This means that strict production requirements were met related to animal welfare, water quality and sustainable feed.