Sustainable wild fish has joined our range!

We’re really pleased to announce that sustainable wild fish is joining our range. It’s been a long journey to this point, but after months of research – consulting fishermen, research bodies and industry experts – we’ve come up with a robust sourcing model that supports local fishing communities, has the least possible impact on the environment, and provides you with the tastiest wild British fish.

Fish for Thought

Our fish is coming from Fish for Thought: a small, family-owned business at the very heart of the Cornish fishing industry.

Fish for Thought are seafood fanatics, and absolutely committed to local sourcing. The business was founded in 2006 by Paul Trudgian. Starting with just one colleague, a Portakabin in a carpark, and “spectacular naivety”, Paul set out to take a warts-and-all look at the fishing industry, determined to change the way people enjoy fish and shellfish.

Today, the team has grown to a few more than a party of two – and they really are leading the way when it comes to sustainable and ethically sourced seafood. All their fish is MSC-certified, and they work closely with the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide (a project led by the Cornish Wildlife Trust) to make the most sustainable choices. They source directly from fishing boats and markets, supporting the fishermen who are operating responsibly, and using their buying power to incentivise further improvement to the industry.

What is ‘sustainable’ fish?

There are many different concepts of what is ‘sustainable’ when it comes to fish. Together with Fish for Thought, we’ve come up with the following fish sourcing manifesto:

  1. Traceability. We know exactly where the fish comes from and how it is caught. All fish can be traced back to individual boats; the name of the boat is shown on each pack.
  2. Minimising harm to the marine environment. Our fishermen use dayboats less than 10 metres long, and line-catch their fish. Line-catching is one of the most sustainable methods of fishing: there is no damage to the sea bed (unlike trawling), no by-catch of other unwanted species, and no risk of lost ‘ghost’ nets that entangle and kill marine life on reefs and in the open sea.
  3. Supporting local fishing communities. By buying fish from local fish markets (Looe and Newlyn in Cornwall, and Brixham and Plymouth in Devon), caught by under 10 metre day-boats, we aim to keep alive the skills and knowledge of small fishing communities.
  4. Top-of-the-line flavour! As well as being the most sustainable method, line-caught fish offers the highest quality. Unlike nets, which are often left in the water overnight, lines are pulled up quickly, so the fish is as fresh as possible. Line-catching is also much gentler; the catch can be bruised and squashed when nets are hauled up.

Our range

Sticking to the rules we have set for ourselves means that our range is quite modest. As we only sell line-caught fish, some species (e.g. flat fish) that can only be caught using other methods are not available. We are only selling three types of fish – but each of them we have absolute confidence in offering.

Mackerel

Mackerel are instantly recognisable by their sleek shape and iridescently striped flanks, mottled with flashes of blue, green and silver. The flesh is firm, deeply flavoured and rich in omega-3 oils. We think fish tastes best served on the bone when possible, so we’ve cleaned and gutted them, but left them whole for you to grill, roast or BBQ.

Order whole mackerel

Pollock

Pollock is a sustainable alternative to its close relative the cod, with white flesh that stays firm and flakes beautifully when cooked just right. We’re offering it diced for speedy stews, curries and fish pies, or filleted for frying to crisp-skinned perfection.

Order filleted pollock or diced pollock

Squid

Fresh squid has a clean, mild seafood flavour, and a very high ratio of usable flesh. We have skinned, prepared, and cleaned it for you. The firm white body is easily stuffed or sliced – and though the tentacles may look a bit sinister and sci-fi, they are just as delectable as the flesh, if not more so.

Order squid

Why do we freeze our fish?

All our fish is iced at sea, and blast-frozen within 24 hours of being caught. It will arrive at your doorstep defrosted and chilled.

Freezing the fish right after being caught ensures that it’s fresh when you come to eat it. Fish from industrial scale boats may have a much longer journey before it’s frozen. In our blind taste tests, we found no impact from freezing on flavour or texture.

Freezing also enables us to catch the fish when they are plentiful in our local seas, and balance supply and demand.

Why isn’t your fish organic?

Wild caught fish can’t be certified as organic, as the conditions under which it’s grown can’t be controlled (it’s the ocean!). The only fish that can be certified organic is farmed fish, which is reared in enclosed environments.

Our range of wild fish is available to order online now.

25 responses to “Sustainable wild fish has joined our range!

  1. I am looking forward to this fish. Ethically sourced, no by-catch. WOnderful.

  2. I am shocked that Riverford has decided to extend its animal flesh range, and especially to see squid there as well. As the desire for vegan food is gaining popularity, I would have liked Riverford to go with the trend.

    • There’s a good article about meat-eating in The Observer food monthly today (17 March).
      All businesses have to work a line to satisfy all their customers, albeit good businesses can provide a careful ‘lead’ to them as well. We don’t eat much meat, fish twice a week and plenty of vegetarian and a few vegan meals. But if Riverford went all-vegan, we’d be buying less from it. And if that goes for lots of others, it puts a business that’s as good as they come on a less sound basis.
      And of all the businesses and people in this country, do we really want to put small farmers and food-producers of fish, animal and diary produce out of business by refusing to buy their produce? What is a long-standing cheese producer going to do after selling their herd at forced sale prices?
      I would like to ask if you would eat venison from a culled animal, and if not why not? All animals are eaten, except those humans who get cremated. It’s just a question of when and by what (and ultimately by worms and vultures). And since humans have killed off all the natural predators, licensed humans need to take their place if we are to maintain bio-diversity. It’s what top predators do, from wolves, to big cats, to falcons and hawks – and cetaceans included. A human eating a culled deer is no different from a wolf eating a tracked and caught deer.
      The essential thing, I suggest, is to be sustainable and stay within the flow of the natural world.

  3. I have felt unable to eat fish for many years as so difficult to source it sustainably. This sounds a triumph, well done Fish for Thought and Riverford for leading the way.

  4. SHOCKED!! No fish is sustainable and there is absolutely no need to eat it. There is much marine life and indeed birds that depend on the fish you are offering which is all part of the natural worlds food chain! This is definitely the wrong way to go in my opinion particularly, as Henrietta said in a previous response, veganism is a growing movement. I now have to question my support of Riverford!

    • Hi Jenny, thanks for letting us know your thoughts. We have been asked for many years if this is something we could offer customers, as this is something that lots of people do want to include in their diet. It has taken years of research to get to this point and offer fish that is sustainably caught and fully traceable, and done on a small scale that preserves traditional fishing skills – a true alternative to the factory fishing that is causing so much damage. We still go by the ethos that veg is the star of the show, and it will always be at the heart of what we do.

      • Only last week I read an article which stated that Mackerel has now been taken off the sustainability listing of fish caught off the coast. It is continually on the news about how the oceans are completely being depleted and destroyed along with the pollution that is taking place. You do say that you have researched this for a long time but surely if that is so you will have seen just how bad things are in the oceans. Most sea life now contains plastic, also! Fish, however they are caught, suffer greatly, most gasp for breath to the end! Of course I understand that Riverford is a business and has to make profit from produce, which I think from the aspect of providing beautiful fruit and vegetables it has got better and better at over the many years we have supported it but from the wonderful natural world in the oceans when they are under such threat, is THIS really the way to go ethically! Factory fishing of course is horrendous but the end result for the fish is the same!

  5. While I we still eat fish I see this as the best possible way – sustainable, environmentally low impact and supporting the local fishermen and women.
    It’s difficult to balance out all sensibilities but this is much to be preferred compared with fish farming or trawlers. Thank you Riverford

  6. if the big fish stop eating the little fish, I will become a vegan, but until then i will enjoy meat . Well done Guy, I look forward to ordering some fish from you as we have ours delivered from Cornwall at present.

  7. I used to order fish from Fish for Thought because of its traceability/UK wild fish, until the day I ordered squid and in the bag it was a label saying product from China. I contacted the owner and he never came back to me!

  8. This method of freezing won’t allow me to freeze it will it?

    • Hello Hilary, All catches are iced at sea, then expertly prepared, packed and blast frozen within 24 hours. Freezing the fish means it is fresh at the point of eating; fish from industrial-scale boats may have a much longer journey before it is frozen. As the fish are pre-frozen they are not suitable for home freezing. Simply keep in the fridge below 5˚C. We guarantee that your fish order will have at least 5 days before its expiry date, including the day of your delivery.

  9. Looking at other comments 50/50 but I thought you were an organic company selling only organic food ??? And squid from China really did you look into this complaint and follow it up and quiz the owner why he never got back to customer over this complaint!!

  10. Just make sure that is what you get. I thought I was buying squid from the South West coast too, until I saw the China label in one of the bags.

    • Hello Pilar, Fish for Thought only catch Cornish squid. We have full traceability and know exactly where the fish comes from and how it is caught. All fish can be traced back to individual boats here in the south west(Looe and Newlyn in Cornwall, and Brixham and Plymouth in Devon). Our fishermen use dayboats less than 10 metres long, and line-catch their fish. The name of the boat is shown on each pack.

  11. Despite some of the disparaging comments, well done Riverford in offering customers what their want by way of ethical choices for their food. Many of us who still eat meat want to reduce the amount of meat we consume and fish is a great way of still getting the omega 3 rich protein. Thank you so much for listing, for giving us that option and making your great company a one stop shop for all our tastebuds needs. Bravo!

  12. Thanks Emily – I hope you really enjoy trying the new fish and trying out some exciting new recipes. Let us know how you get on!

  13. Caroline Hodges

    I also would prefer to see Riverford support the movement towards avoiding animal produce. We do not need to consume meat or fish in the UK, there are other sources of omega 3 fatty acids and protein. In the end, however they are caught, they suffer, their lives are cut short, for our benefit, we are ‘feeding our material appetites’ at the expense of a defenseless creature which is sentient and experiences pain. ‘Big fish will eat little fish’, but we humans now know how this must feel, so I believe we have a duty of care to stop it, as far as we can. The effect on the planet of procuring this fish may be minimal, but I still consider animal welfare just as important, as I know do Riverford.
    Of course I respect the effort and research that has gone into this, it must be better than most sources, but I am disappointed customers have encouraged it, I keep hoping we will change for so many reasons.

  14. We are also pleased that Riverford has decided to sell fresh and sustainable fish, a welcome change to what can be bought in a supermarket. Thank you Riverford.

  15. I’m glad fish and meat are available from Riverford.

    The animal suffering argument is completely unfounded. How many small animals like mice and similar die a horrible death during the production of vegetables? Do they not count only because they don’t end up on our plates? One could argue that if a human aspired to kill as few living things as possible, they ought to eat meat only.

  16. Elena Sanchez-Heras

    I am very pleased that Riverford has decided to sell sustainable fish. I’m crazy about squid and I used to get it online from a Cornish supplier. Well done, Riverford! Of course fish cannot be organic certified if it’s wild. But the point or me to buy from Riverford is to know where my fruit, vegetables, meat, bread, etc… comes from. They are sustainable and traceable products and that’s enough for me. Supporting the local industries is a plus too.

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