Jamie Oliver is on a mission to help everyone fall in love with cooking. Part of that is by helping all of us find love in new & unlikely places. Breaking habits and exploring new terrain – or, this week, waters…

In the past, we’ve campaigned to get everyone eating whole fish, not just the fillets. And we’ve re-introduced herring, a storied and tasty British darling, that was slipping through our nets, being sent on to other nation’s dinner plates or being turned into fish meal to feed fish farms beyond our borders.

But, despite our efforts, as a nation, we’re still stuck in a food rut – buying the same cuts and species over and over again. By living this way, we’re putting massive pressure on our seas’ stocks. Ultimately, if we want to make sure our favourite species are around for years to come, we need to help our seas stay diverse by fishing & shopping differently.

Part of the problem is knowing – or not knowing – how to make good choices. How do you know you’re buying sustainable fish? What labels should you look for? Are there labels we can all trust? Do people understand them or even know to look for them?

The answer is troublingly murky. People want to do the right thing, they want to make the right choices. But few of us have a clue of what’s OK to eat, and what’s not.

“I don’t think it’s the public’s fault, I think sign posting so people know what’s sustainable and what’s not would help people make better choices. I don’t think we’ve got that right yet,” said Jamie.

Of all the fish and seafood we buy in the UK, 2/3rds – or 67% – is made up of just 5 species!

Top 5:

  • 25% salmon
  • 14% prawns
  • 12% cod
  • 11% tuna
  • 5% haddock

What that means is these species are under more pressure than ever. But it also means we’re missing out on delicious, sustainable fish simply because we don’t know it well enough to choose it.

This week on Friday Night Feast’s #FoodFight, Jamie & Jimmy are on a mission to get people across the UK to break their fishy monogamy from the top 5. And to try new, maybe even tastier fish.

On the top of their must love list is hake. Last year, 12,000 tonnes of hake was caught in the UK – but 98% of that was shipped abroad, to the delight of foreign dinners… It’s also one of the most sustainable fish you can buy on British shores according to Marine Stewardship Council’s guide. Currently, MSC’s little blue label is the only credible way for shoppers to tell if a fish is sustainable when buying in the UK.

What’s sure is that if we don’t change our tastes soon, we could risk fishing our favourites into extinction.

As Jamie said: “It’s bonkers that our cod stocks are under threat because we haven’t given other things a go. Let’s show a little bit of love for all of cod’s family – like hake. Let’s all take responsibility for the future of fish. Supermarkets, please think about labelling. And people at home, think about what goes into your shopping basket. And try to swap some of your old faves for less popular species. So let’s do this guys before it’s too late.”