December 29, 2016

Sustainable Fish Guide – Say No, Think Twice or Better Choice

This is a crucial time when seafood is front and center for our Christmas lunch! Swordfish, orange roughy and shark are off the menu – and seafood lovers should instead choose plentiful options such as whiting and calamari. This is the reality for Australian consumers if our fish stocks are to survive into the future, said the authors of the new Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide.

Celebrity chef Guy Grossi is a keen subscriber to the Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide.

“Within my restaurants we understand the importance of using, fresh, local and sustainable produce – there are just so many benefits,” said Grossi.

The United Nations has found that 80 per cent of fish stocks around the world are either overfished or fished right up to their limit. If this trend continues, jellyfish could end up as the fish of the day within a matter of decades.

The Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide, published by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) sorts more than 100 seafood species in one of three categories; Say No, Think Twice or Better Choice, depending on the way the fish is caught, and whether it’s numbers are dwindling.

“Even right here in Australia there are 15 species that are ‘overfished or subject to overfishing’, according to government scientists.

“We are not saying – don’t eat fish. We are simply recommending that people avoid species under threat and opt instead for seafood that is sustainable, readily available and kinder to the seas,” says AMCS Director Darren Kindleysides.

Five seafood species that Australians should choose to eat are:

  1. Whiting
  2. Australian Sardine
  3. Mussels
  4. Calamari
  5. Blue Swimmer Crab

Five fish to avoid include:

  1. Orange roughy (deep sea perch)
  2. Swordfish
  3. Gemfish/Hake
  4. Bigeye Tuna
  5. Shark/Flake

“Most people want to do the right thing but are unaware of the many problems with fisheries management, so we have developed a simple, user-friendly guide which references over 100 different types of seafood, and also advises on the best options when choosing canned or imported fish.

“Some species are simply overfished, but there are also issues with bycatch; which means that seals, turtles, sharks and albatross are being caught in large numbers to bring seafood to our plates,” says Mr Kindleysides.

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide is available online at or by freecall 1800 066 299 for $9.95.

There is more information about sustainable seafood online, and a wallet-sized version of the guide is also available to help make smart seafood choices.

AMCS is an independent, national not-for-profit organisation that has been operating for over 40 years.

A Better Choice can be made by choosing green. Species in this group are not currently overfished. They are generally resilient to fishing pressure at current levels, have a history of stable catches or are caught or farmed using techniques that have a lower environmental impact. Some Better Choice species may still have conservation concerns, but have been assessed to be a better seafood choice.
Think Twice about choosing species listed in amber. Wild caught species in this group may be heavily targeted or caught using fishing methods that damage habitat or are associated with high levels of bycatch. There may be scientific uncertainty about the status of wild caught stocks and a level of fishing pressure that suggests caution is required. If farmed, the aquaculture method used has some conservation challenges.
Say No to all species listed in red. Wild caught species in this group may be overfished or particularly vulnerable to overfishing, or their capture involves bycatch of threatened or protected species. Farmed species include those produced by unsustainable sea cage aquaculture methods that place additional pressure on our oceans.
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  1. I am writing to advise that your noted species on sustainabity with the inclusion of hake ( As an alterantive to Gemfish ) is inaccurate and totally misleading.
    While Gemfish ( Rexea solandri ) is indeed under threat the fish is not a hake ( Merluccius spp ) which is a deep water white fish that has been certified by MSC in a number of fishing zones .( FAO 47 ) as well as currently under evatiation in (FAO zone 81 ).
    Hake ,Flake and many other fish have historical but inaccurate assocaitions and as such need to be removed to avoid confusion.
    I would suggest you also review the website as the principle world recognised NGO certifing sustained fisheries.

    I am MD of one of the largest seafood importers which also sell MSC cerified spcies.

    • Hi Michael,

      Thank you for letting us know about this confusion!

      Unfortunately we are not the original authors of the Sustainable Seafood Guide and I would recommend you to contact the Australian Marine Conservation Society about working with them to update their guidebooks.

      I have been reading over the MSC website and think it is also a great site to check out. It has clear pictures and information about what types of seafood is sustainable and was quite helpful when I did a few quick searches.

      I recommend people to read both the Sustainable Seafood Guide and check out the MSC website. With all this knowledge you are able to make better choices!

      Thanks again Michael and we appreciate you keeping us informed!!


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