Approximately 70-80% of all the seafood we eat in the UK is imported from overseas. In 2018, fish imports equated to 3.2 billion pounds (Statista). These statistics suggest it is relatively difficult to source seafood that is produced in the UK. As Seasonarians we recommend always checking your labels, not only to find where your seafood comes from, but also to ensure it has been sustainably sourced using ethical fishing practices.
Looking for the blue Marine Stewardship Council label is a good start. It is worth noting however, particularly after the recent Seaspiracy documentary on Netflix, that we highly recommend you do your own research into where your fish comes from and how it is fished and make your judgement from there.
Where Does Our Seafood Come From?
The 5 main groups of fish we eat in the UK are haddock, cod, salmon, tuna and shrimps/prawns. Research has shown that cod and haddock are mostly imported from Europe, with the latter being primarily UK sourced (Towards Data Science). Salmon comes in mostly from Northern Europe, with a smaller percentage from Canada and Thailand. Salmon is also farmed in Scotland, however most of this is exported (Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation). Tuna is imported from many countries outside of Europe with Ghana as the UK’s biggest supplier, while shrimps/prawns tend to come from south-east Asia, Honduras, Ecuador and some European countries.
So, tuna and shrimps/prawns are most likely to travel the furthest to reach our dinner plates. Perhaps on your Seasonarian journey you can reduce these two fish groups in your diet and look for more sustainable and less travelled alternatives.
Let's Talk About Overfishing...
As many of you are probably aware, fishing is the greatest threat to all marine wildlife. Sadly, it has wiped out over 90% of the world’s large fish, and has drastic consequences for other species, such as killing 30,000 sharks each hour and 300,000 dolphins, whales, and porpoises per year. Unfortunately the problems don’t stop there, with 70% of the macro plastic at sea coming from fishing gear, and bottom trawling releasing as much carbon into the atmosphere as air travel.
There is no denying that our current fishing activities are unsustainable, and while we hope that more sustainable fishing practices are developed and implemented on a widescale, alongside a significant increase in no-catch marine reserves, we recommend that those of you hoping to eat more sustainably conduct your own research on this topic and make a decision regarding your seafood consumption that is right for you. Whether this is reducing your fish consumption, eating different types of fish or simply being aware of the consequences of seafood consumption, even reading this page is a step in the right direction.