Making sustainable seafood choices with the Best Fish Guide

Looking to make informed seafood choices when at the supermarket or in a restaurant? Introducing the 2017 Best Fish Guide, New Zealand’s only comprehensive and independent guide to sustainable seafood. 

As a country surrounded by ocean, New Zealand is lucky enough to be spoilt for choice when it comes to seafood. However, most Kiwis don’t stop to think about the sustainability of their choices or the consequences they entail. Enter Forest & Bird. They’ve done all the hard work for us with the creation of their 2017 Best Fish Guide, New Zealand’s only comprehensive and independent guide to sustainable seafood.

“The guide is a powerful tool that helps New Zealanders make a real difference for our oceans. There is plenty of choice for Kiwis who love their seafood but who want to encourage responsible fishing practices,” says Katrina Goddard, Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate.


Squid caught by trawling is in the red “worst choice” category. If you can find squid caught using a seabird and sea lion-friendly fishing method (i.e. jigging), it is ranked as an amber ‘OK choice.” Image Wreford Hann. 

The app ranks the sustainability of more than 85 commercial seafood species in a traffic light system, assessing a number of ecological factors to determine which fisheries are the least (and most) damaging to the environment. It reveals that only 42 New Zealand seafood choices are farmed or fished sustainably, while 75 are categorised as being in the “worst choice” category due to being ecologically unstable. 

The guide has garnered support far and wide, including from top New Zealand chefs Annabel Langbein, Al Brown, Brett McGregor, Julie Biuso, Grace Ramirez, Shaun Clouston and Lauraine Jacob. The chefs have joined forces with Forest & Bird to create recipes using sustainable seafood, available on the app.


This year’s guide includes the freshwater native species of whitebait and eels for the first time. Both are ranked as red “worst choice”. The main reason New Zealand’s five whitebait species are declining so rapidly is habitat loss and degradation but whitebaiting is also having an impact. Whitebait is the only commercial fishery managed by the Department of Conservation. Image by Wreford Hann. 

“It was an easy decision to be involved in the Best Fish Guide. Sustainable fishing is something we really believe in at Logan Brown. It’s dear to our business model, and our hearts,’ says Shaun Clouston, executive chef and partner at Logan Brown restaurant.  


Some species in the app are given more than one ranking, depending on where and how they were caught. Forest & Bird recommends asking the region and fishing method of how seafood was caught when buying it. The guide also offers alternative choices for varieties ranked as the least ecologically sustainable.


The green ‘great to eat’ section includes farmed paua, albacore and Skipjack Tuna, some salmon, and mussels and crayfish from some regions. 34 seafood choices are listed in the  ‘OK to eat’ category, including kahawai, trevally caught by purse seine, kingfish caught by set net, blue cod caught by pots, and hoki caught by mid-water trawl. However, there is still an extremely concerning number of species still in the ‘worst choice’ category, including southern and pacific bluefin tuna, orange roughy, arrow squid caught by trawl, all shark species, long-fin and short-fin eels, and whitebait.

“New Zealanders have been shocked this year by revelations of illegal and destructive fishing practices,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.

“It’s a sad fact that the majority of commercially available seafood options are still being fished unsustainably, so Forest & Bird is really pleased to offer a simple, accurate guide that lets people make a positive difference for our ocean,” says Mr Hague.

The Best Fish Guide 2017 is available to downloaded for free from www.bestfishguide.org.nz, or as an app from the iOS and Android app stores.



Did you know?


  • 15,077 seabirds are caught in all NZ fisheries every year.
  • Between 107-152 Hector’s dolphins are killed in NZ fisheries every year.
  • 27 common dolphins are killed across all trawls in NZ every year.
  • 5 Maui’s dolphins are killed in NZ fisheries every year.
  • 509 fur seals are killed in NZ fisheries every year.
  • 12 sea turtles are killed in surface longline tuna fisheries in NZ every year.


Spread the love
Rate This Article:
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Sign up to our email newsletters for your weekly dose of good