big 5 sustainability

The Sustainability of The Big Five

We’re often encouraged to eat lots of fish because its healthy and delicious; however, it’s also about eating the right fish.

Two-thirds of the world’s fish are overfished and depleted. In fact, in the UK alone, 80% of the fish we eat is comprised of 5 species. These are generally known as The Big Five: salmon, prawns, canned tuna, cod, and haddock. With so much emphasis on these species, are they sustainable?

The Big 5 dominate the national market for seafood. The average UK adult now eats 2% more seafood than they would have eaten a generation ago, and demand is predicted to grow by a further 17% by 2030. This is great, as long as the seafood is sustainable. The world’s fish stocks are under pressure from climate change, pollution, a growing world population, and also an increase per capita consumption of fish.

The Big Five have become so popular with the British public by being recognisable on menus. These fish are also easy to handle: they normally come filleted, skinned, and prepared. However, you shouldn’t be scared of expanding your culinary skills as well as your taste palettes.

The monopoly of these five species in the hearts and stomachs of the UK can lead to multiple problems. Naturally, the pressure on these species is enormous. Intensive commercial fishing of them have depleted the resources. In fact, some species such as the Southern Bluefin tuna and Atlantic Bluefin have been categorised as Critically Endangered and endangered, respectively. Furthermore, as these fish maintain their popularity, other species are becoming harder to sell; even if they’re just as delicious!

Eating more specials outside of the Big Five will allow the species a chance to recover and stock levels to build again. Also, if gives lots of opportunities to experiment and discover new fish you didn’t know about! In 2018, a YouGov poll carried out by the MSC found that 88% of UK adults think that to protect the ocean, we should buy seafood from sustainable sources. This is absolutely imperative. If you are going to indulge with seafood on the Big Five, ensuring that it is from a sustainable source can help protect our oceans, fish, and fishing communities.


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