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A blue cod under water
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Blue cod at Hororangi Reserve. Credit: Anna Barnett Creative Commons


Best Fish Guide

Conservation area:

Choosing sustainable seafood is easier than ever, thanks to our Best Fish Guide.

Why it matters

Forest & Bird is proud to publish the Best Fish Guide, New Zealand’s only independent consumer guide to ecologically sustainably caught seafood.

Download the Best Fish Guide

You can download the Best Fish Guide as a mobile application on iPhone or Android devices. (NOTE: The Best Fish Guide is currently being reviewed and updated for 2019)

iPhone Android

If you don't have a smartphone, you can download and print our pocket guide.

602.57 KB

Download and print our Best Fish Guide Pocket Guide.

The 2017 guide, released in the form of a mobile app and website, uses a traffic light system to rank more than 85 commercial seafood species. It assesses a number of ecological factors to determine which fisheries are the least (and most) damaging to the marine environment.

There’s plenty of choice for Kiwis who love their seafood but want to choose more sustainable options. The all-new guide lists nine “great to eat” seafood choices, including salmon, mussels, oysters and paua (all farmed), albacore and skipjack tuna, crayfish, cockles and pilchards. A further 33 are in the  “OK to eat” categories.

However, New Zealand’s seafood industry is not always as environmentally-friendly as some claim. The Best Fish Guide reveals 75 seafood choices that should be avoided because they are ecologically unsustainable.

At the bottom of the “worst choice” category are orange roughy and black cardinal fish. The rigorous scientific methodology used to assess each species has been thoroughly reviewed for the 2017 guide. Our scientists used the best available and most recent scientific information to compile the ecological assessments.

What’s new?

The guide is more user-friendly than ever before, with additional species, information and choices. It includes freshwater species (whitebait and eels) for the first time. The 2017 guide also includes regional differences and/or fishing method differences for many species.

How does it work?

Some seafood has more than one ranking depending on where and/or how it was caught. For example, arrow squid caught by jigging is a good seafood choice, while bottom trawl-caught squid should be avoided.

How was the ranking worked out?

Our methodology assesses a number of ecological factors to determine which fisheries are the least (and most) damaging to the marine environment.

1.24 MB

Download the Best Fish Guide methodology.

Who's supporting it?

To make it even easier to cook with sustainable seafood, some of New Zealand's top chefs have supplied recipes for our top seafood choices. Visit the Best Fish Guide website for recipes from Annabel Langbein, Al Brown, Brett McGregor, Julie Biuso, Grace Ramirez, Shaun Clouston, Lauraine Jacobs and more.

What can you do

  • Download the Best Fish Guide and make informed choices when buying seafood at the supermarket or your favourite restaurant.
  • Encourage your friends and family to download and use the app.
  • Ask your local supermarket, restaurant and fish & chip shop - What species is this? Where was it caught? How was it caught? Keep asking, and help create consumer-led change!  
  • Host a shared dinner and challenge guests to bring a dish using seafood on our green 'good to eat' list.
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