As a country, we are eating more and a wider variety of seafood than our parents did. This change was prompted by a concern for our health and the need to diversify the sources of protein we consume. We spent over £6bn on seafood in 2017, mostly from chilled and frozen fish.

We prepare more fish ourselves with sales of breaded fish and fish in sauce declining and eating more sushi and dusted fish. According to guidelines, a healthy diet should contain a minimum of two portions of fish a week. This should include one portion of an oily fish like salmon, mackerel or trout.

Around half our seafood spend is in restaurants, including fish and chip shops. The most popular species of fish eaten in fish and chip shops are cod and haddock, followed by hake and coley. Shellfish is become more and more common in fish and chip shops. Primarily as breaded or battered scampi, but scallops and prawns too. There are around 10,500 takeaway fish and chip shops in the UK, collectively serving around 382 million fish and chip meals every year.

Are we more or less sustainable?

UK fisherman, discussed in a previous blog, cannot meet our demands and the country is a net importer of fish. This means we import more fish than we export. But growing demand for fish threatens sustainability with approximately 30% of EU fish stocks overfished. Cod stocks in the North Sea have began to recover over the past decade. They are now at sustainable levels so that North Sea cod can now be sold in supermarkets and restaurants bearing the Marine Stewardship Council’s ‘blue tick’ label. The blue tick indicates that it is wild, sustainable and fully traceable.

The Marine Stewardship Council’s fishery certification programme recognises and rewards sustainable fishing practises. Its ecolabel aims to influence people’s choices in favour of sustainable fisheries when buying seafood. It is displayed on tens of thousands of products and used in over 100 countries. The blue fish label is only applied to wild fish or seafood that have been certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard, a science-based set of requirements for sustainable fishing.

In this year… 2016

The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals came into force. Goal 14 is ‘Life below water’. This goal seeks to conserve and sustainably end overfishing, restore fish stocks, protect ecosystems and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.


Four-fifths of the UK population visit a fish and chip shop at least once a year. Almost a quarter visit every week, with Friday the busiest day!