Four lesser-spotted fish to reconsider

Rajina Gurung, Seafood Sustainability Advocate

We love the sea for so many reasons, many people rely on it for jobs, for fun, to store carbon, for food and much more. However, our seas face a wide range of threats. Climate change, pollution, habitat and biodiversity loss are all impacting our seas; plus 90% of global fish stocks are either fully or over-exploited.

Over 100 commercial fish species are found in UK waters, but most people routinely only eat the big "5": cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns. Consumers can help the marine environment and the UK’s fishing and aquaculture industries by diversifying their choice in fish and choosing less popular and underutilised species. This will help encourage demand for the most sustainable and local seafood, and put far less stress on individual fisheries.

Here are some great lesser known fish to try which are rated 1-3 on the Marine Conservation Society’s  (MCS) Good Fish Guide:



Hake is closely related to cod but separated by its long slender body. Hake has a mild flavor similar to cod with a medium but firm textured meat. The European hake is found in waters close to home and is more abundant than cod at the moment. The northern stock of hake has recovered from depleted levels following good management and is now at a record high. European Hake is rated 1-2 on the Good Fish Guide.


Coley belongs to the same family as cod and haddock and is a great substitute for cod. Also known as saithe, coley used to be a favourite of the nation’s cats before tinned pet food was developed, however top chefs and leading supermarkets have changed all that, championing it as a good alternative to cod. Once cooked coley turns white and looks as good as cod, it’s brilliant in fish pies and cakes and also eaten salted and smoked. Coley is rated 1-3 on the Good Fish Guide.

Coley MCS Blog


Mackerel is full of omega-3 and rumored to improve brain power so an ideal starter fish for kids! Mackerel is a fast swimming sliver and blue striped fish which is related to tuna. They swim around in huge shoals which feed on small fish and prawns. Mackerel is best eaten fresh and can be grilled smoked or fried, when cooked the meat is really creamy. Mackerel is rated 2-3 on the Good Fish Guide.  

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout is a close relative to salmon, it’s a great sustainable healthy alternative to salmon with a third of the fat of salmon at just 135kcals per 100g. It’s not strongly flavoured and is rich in Omega 3! Rainbow trout is widely farmed in UK, mainly in freshwater. Farming takes place mainly in ponds, tanks or raceways with water being supplied from an adjacent river. Location of farms is determined by the proximity of a clean river to provide water. Rainbow trout is rated 1-3 on the Good Fish Guide.


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