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Sustainable Seafood

Sustainable Seafood

Billingsgate Seafood School - Sustainable Seafood

Since 2000 Billingsgate Seafood School has focused on promoting the health benefits of consumption as well as helping young and old a like to enjoy a wider variety of fish and shellfish.  Increasing pressure on the wild resources of the sea has focused our work on promoting the responsible sourcing of the lesser known varieties that are predominantly available around European coasts.  Sustainability and responsible use of food from the sea is central in all aspects of our work these include working with young people, the public and the Seafood Industry.

When considering responsible sourcing of seafood we look at three main aspects.  These are the stock size or amount of fish available, how the fish is caught and what happens to the product before it comes to market.  When fishing for particular species it is key that not too many caught in any one year. By leaving a sufficient number of fish in the sea, a mature breeding stock will reproduce a healthy population (under good environmental conditions) for the next year.  Increasingly, markets are looking towards fish farming and aquaculture to produce larger quantities of those fish in high demand.  While this may offer some answers we need to consider issues like what we are feeding these fish and how and where they are produced.

The way in that a wild fish is caught has a real impact onother species, particularly if they live in the same part of the sea as thetarget species.  Fish without a viable market can easily be wasted as the fishermen will naturally wants to fill their limited cargo hold with product that is in demand.  This certainly couples with our work to raise consumer awareness of these less well known fish and shellfish.  We also promote fishing methods that target a particular type of fish, such as using hook and line, set nets, pots and traps.  These methods cause less disruption to the marine habitat and target particular groups of fish. The selectivity of fishing methods is a measure of how many different shapes and sizes of fish are harvested by that method, the most sustainable fishing methods are highly selective and avoid a by-catch of unwanted marine animals.

There are more than 300 languages spoken in London, and people from many communities buy their fish from London’s largest fish market, Billingsgate, where they can buy fish to suit a wide variety of cuisines. Indeed, the fabulous variety of fish and shellfish available makes Billingsgate a real magnet for those passionate about seafood.  With such a selection you are really spoilt for choice.  This choice is also widely available on our doorstep and we actively encourage School attendees to look for fish caught in local waters, trying to avoid processed products that carry excessive food miles.

If you are interested in learning more about seafood and sustainability visit, a‘one-stop-shop’ sustainable seafood website created by the Marine ConservationSociety (MCS), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), SeaWeb’s Seafood Choices Alliance and Sustain.

Access the 21 case studies generated as part of our 'Celebrating Sustainable Seafood Project' using the link below: