A guide to sustainable seafood

By Australian Geographic 30 January 2018
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
What exactly is sustainable seafood and how can you make better choices when it comes to what you put on your plate?

SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD is seafood that reaches our plates with minimal impact on fish populations and the marine environment. It can be wild-caught or farmed in aquaculture. But very few fisheries are actually certified as sustainable throughout the world. To help you make better choices, download the sustainable seafood. But, generally, your best option is to choose small, fast-growing, sustainable species and avoid top predators such as swordfish, sharks and tuna.

1. Better choice

These species represent a better choice. Species in this group are not currently overfished. They are generally resilient to fishing pressure due to their life histories or the way they are exploited, have a history of stable catches and are caught or farmed using techniques that have low environmental impacts. Some of these species may still have minor conservation concerns, but have been assessed to be a better seafood choice.

Australian wild-caught

Australian salmon

Marketed as Australian salmon


Marketed as mud crabs, spanner crabs

Flathead (NSW & VIC)

Marketed as dusky flathead

Bay prawns

Marketed as prawns

Southern calamari

Marketed as calamari


Marketed as King George and stout whiting

Australian farmed


Marketed as barra

Blue mussel

Marketed as mussel


Marketed as Sydney rock, native and Pacific oysters


Marketed as black tiger, kuruma and banana prawns

2. Eat less

Eat less of these. Wild-caught species in this group may be caught using fishing methods that cause some damage to marine habitats or are associated with significant levels of bycatch. There may be scientific uncertainty about the status of wild-caught stocks and careful management will be needed to protect stock health. If farmed, the aquaculture methods used have some environmental impacts on our seas.

Australian wild-caught

Barramundi (WA & NT)

Marketed as barra

Blue-eye trevalla

Marketed as tropical snapper


Marketed as Balmain and Moreton Bay bugs


Marketed as tiger flathead

Mahi mahi

Marketed as dolphinfish


Marketed as western and western king, banana, tiger, school and endeavour prawns


Marketed as albacore and yellowfin tuna

Australian farmed

Atlantic salmon

Marketed as Tasmanina/smoked salmon

Rainbow trout

Marketed as ocean trout



Marketed as freshwater fillet, royal basa and Mekong catfish

Nile perch

Marketed as Lake Victoria perch

3. Say no

Say no to these. Wild caught species in this group, whether Australian or imported, may be overfished or their capture heavily impacts our seas by, for example, killing threatened or protected species as bycatch or damaging sensitive habitats. Farmed species include those produced by methods that place much stress on our oceans.

Australian wild caught

Blue warehou

Marketed as sea bream


Marketed as hake


Marketed as jewfish

Orange roughy

Marketed as deep sea perch


Marketed as flake


Otherwise knwon as pink snapper

Australian farmed

Yellowtail kingfish

Marketed as kingfish, yellowtail & Tasmanian yellowtail


Blue grenadier

Marketed as hoki

Farmed prawns

Marketed as Pacific white, whiteleg & black tiger prawns


Marketed as cod


Markated as albacore, yellowfin, bigeye tuna

Note: canned tuna sustainability is brand-dependent. Visit changeyourtuna.org.au for advice and information from Greenpeace.


In Australia and New Zealand, you’ll find sustainable seafood with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue fish tick on over 500 products and menus. To see a listing of sustainable seafood brands, restaurants and retailers that carry the label, head to: https://www.msc.org/en-au/what-you-can-do/buy-sustainable-seafood