Sustainable Seafood – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

August 14, 2014

Sustainability is a sexy word when it comes to seafood, but not everyone is taking the bait, writes Aoife Boothroyd.

The concept of sustainable seafood has gained plenty of attention over the past few years. The Marine Stewardship Council together with a number of high profile chefs and environmental groups have been very effective in communicating the importance of having sustainable seafood varieties on restaurant menus, but when it comes to consumers’ ordering habits, by and large they’re sticking with what they know.

Executive chef at Sydney’s Flying Fish, Stephen Seckold says that when it comes to sustainable seafood, there are two types: premium products such as the Glacier 51 Toothfish as well as premium cod varieties, and ‘uglier species’ such as sardines and flounders.

Although consumer perceptions of the ‘uglier’ lesser-known species are slowly changing, the demand for these more plentiful varieties – at least at this stage – simply isn’t big enough to warrant being a permanent fixture on a menu.

“There is a lovely Coorong Mullet that comes out of South Australia which is absolutely fantastic but you know, people grow up thinking that mullet is some sort of bait fish and that you wouldn’t really go out to eat it at a fine dining restaurant,” says Seckold. “When it comes to the cheaper fish, people aren’t really going out for that sort of thing.”

Seckold says that while one of the restaurant’s signature dishes is the MSC certified Glacier 51 Toothfish, consumers, in general, are looking for familiarity when they order.

“We’ve tried things on and off. Some of them have been successful some of them haven’t been successful … At Flying Fish, we don’t really have a wide range of uglier species on the menu, but we do specials on them occasionally. For example, if some really beautiful fresh sardines come in then we put them on a special. After that it’s really up the waiter to be able to convince the diner to give it a try and once they do, it’s fine.”

-taken from