Salmon, dorade, eel: which fish is still allowed to eat??

Some are taboo | Which fish is still allowed on the table?

Consumer advice center warns against overfishing

Salmon is allowed on the table but only if it is Alaskan salmon with MSC seal

Salmon is allowed on the table, but only if it is Alaskan salmon with the MSC seal Photo: Leontura/Getty Images

pollock, halibut or pikeperch? Only a few fish can be eaten today with a clear conscience. Some of the world’s oceans are in very bad shape, with more than a quarter of the species fished for consumption overfished – three percent already completely depleted.

Therefore, the consumer centers Hamburg and Berlin have now published a fish guidebook. Which fish can be eaten without hesitation, and which fish should be avoided?

Finger off!

Eel, shiner and rockfish are among the fish that are now severely endangered by overfishing and therefore do not belong on our plates.

Silke Schwartau: "Fish stocks are shrinking, so that many cannot recover and more and more species are becoming extinct, therefore the amount of wild fish caught worldwide has been decreasing continuously since 1995 already."

On the red list

Also very endangered and therefore without MSC label nothing for the domestic plate: Atlantic herring, cod or mackerel.

Occasionally ok

Fish used to be available once a week, mostly on Fridays. Silke Schwartau: "Conditionally recommended are, for example, North Sea shrimp, sardines, plaice or cod. However, one should really not access here too often."


This fish gets the green light from Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg: Alaska pollock with MSC seal, Atlantic halibut, Atlantic herring (if MSC certified), plaice (MSC certified), humpback salmon, or MSC certified tuna.

The consumer advocate: "With these fish, we have no concerns about overfishing at this time."

How to recognize good fish

Whether you can buy a fish with a clear conscience or rather not, depends above all on where it comes from. In the meantime, this can be seen very easily by looking at the packaging.

Marine fishThe Food and Agriculture Organization has divided the world’s oceans into 19 fishing zones, the so-called FAO fishing areas. These are in turn divided into sub-fishing areas, because: the stock of an entire main fishing area is not always threatened.

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Behind the abbreviation FAO is the number for one of the fishing areas. On the packaging it then says z.B. "caught in catch area FAO 67 (Northeast Pacific)". Sometimes smaller areas such as FAO 27-16 (Northeast Atlantic, North Sea) are also indicated.

Farmed fishIf fish come from aquacultures, the words "from aquaculture" or "bred in…" are printed on the packaging or at the counter. In this case, the country in which the fish have passed through their last developmental phase is to be indicated. If the fish have grown up in inland waters such as ponds or lakes, the words "from inland fisheries" must be indicated.

What MSC means?

MSC is the world’s most important standard for environmentally sustainable fisheries. In Germany, 70 percent of fish sold is MSC-certified.

Silke Schwartau from Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg: "Nevertheless, some MSC-certified fisheries are not recommendable. Therefore, we advise you not to blindly trust the seal and also to check certified fishery products for their sustainability."

By the way: The herring fisheries from Germany, Denmark and Sweden in the western Baltic Sea have lost the MSC seal in the meantime.

The reason: The MSC environmental standard prohibits fishing for stocks that are not of sustainable size and whose regeneration is impaired. Due to the average temperature increase of up to 2.5 degrees Celsius in the Baltic Sea, there are no longer enough young herring. The population has increased from ca. 200,000 tons reduced to just 110,000 tons.

What is Naturland wild fish?

Naturland wild fish products must be produced according to Naturland standards (u.a. no use of genetically modified materials, no tank farming) are processed for organic products. They also include requirements for working conditions at the farm of production.

Schwartau: "However, so far few fisheries are certified and the availability in the trade is currently unfortunately still low."

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