Sustainable Fish Cities NI

Sustainable Fish Cities NI 

Join the movement

What is the Sustainable Fish Cities NI campaign?

Sustainable Fish Cities NI is an ambitious campaign by Ulster Wildlife and Belfast Food Network to create Northern Ireland’s first-ever Sustainable Fish Cities in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry, In the long term, we aim to encourage other regions in Northern Ireland to follow suit.

Any business or organisation that serves fish, from restaurants and retailers to hospitals and education establishments, can get involved by committing to buy, serve, eat, and promote fish from sustainable sources. 

Across the UK, Sustainable Fish Cities, coordinated by Sustain (the alliance for better food and farming), since 2012, has racked up an impressive track record of success with 850 million meals served by caterers committing to sustainable fish with 17 cities put on the map, including Heathrow Airport. Many individuals and organisations across the UK including shops, fish suppliers, restaurants, schools, and tourist attractions have successfully made the change to sustainable seafood - fully supported by consumer encouragement and buying power.

What is a Sustainable Fish City?

A city becomes a Sustainable Fish City by securing pledges from small and large businesses and organisations. A signed pledge represents a commitment to take action to buy, serve and promote sustainable seafood. Durham is a great example of a 5 star Fish City, with over 20 organisations and businesses taking part in the movement.

Who's taken the Sustainable Fish City pledge in NI?

The Sustainable Fish Cities NI pledge for businesses and organisations is a self-declared pledge, based on goodwill.  Ulster Wildlife and the Belfast Food Network are not responsible for policing whether the signed pledges have or have not been fulfilled by the business/organisation.  

Why take the Sustainable Fish City Pledge?

Our planet’s health directly depends on a healthy ocean, which in turn regulates climate, produces over 50% of the oxygen we breathe, supplies us with resources, jobs, and is an important form of transportation. For the ocean to be healthy, its habitats, food webs and wildlife need to be protected.  The UK is failing to meet 11 out of 15 indicators for healthy seas1. Less than 1/3 of UK fish stocks are harvested sustainably2, making it more pressing than ever to protect marine ecosystems by buying sustainably produced fish.

Once you sign the pledge and commit to sustainable fish the name of your business or organisation will be listed on the Sustain – Sustainable Fish Cities, Ulster Wildlife – Sustainable Fish Cities NI and the Belfast Food Network webpages.

1 – CEFAS (2020b): MOAT: Summary of progress towards Good Environmental Status. Available at:

2 - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK (2020). UK Biodiversity Indicators 2020. Available at:

How can I get involved?

To sign up and access your guide towards Sustainable Fish Cities NI please complete the form below


What is ‘sustainable’ seafood?

‘Sustainable fishing means that fishing is at a level that ensures it can continue indefinitely, with the fish population remaining productive and healthy, minimising impact on the wider environment and supporting fisher’s livelihoods in the long-term. Sustainable seafood is fish and shellfish sourced from a fishery that operates in this way. Ulster Wildlife and the Belfast Food Network consider seafood within one of the following criteria as sustainable:  

  1. All fish/shellfish rated as sustainable by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) on their Good Fish Guide (i.e. sustainability rating 1-3) . For more information about the MCS Sustainability Ratings, please see here. 
  2. All fish/shellfish fisheries within a ‘comprehensive or 'credible' Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)’. Comprehensive FIPs are time-bound action plans which aim to address all of the fishery’s environmental and stock management challenges necessary to achieve a level of performance consistent with an unconditional pass of the Marine Stewardship Council Fisheries Standard. Examples of local fisheries within a comprehensive FIP is the Norway lobster/Scampi fishery (Nephrops norvegicus) and the great Atlantic scallop fishery.  All comprehensive FIPs must be fully transparent and are available at

Will joining the scheme help my business?

Yes! Joining the Sustainable Fish Cities NI movement will put you on the map along with other businesses and organisations that are doing their bit for the environment and our local communities.

Don’t forget, once you sign the pledge and commit to sustainable fish the name of your business or organisation will be listed on the Sustain – Sustainable Fish Cities, Ulster Wildlife – Sustainable Fish Cities NI and the Belfast Food Network webpages.

According to Global Seafood Consumer Survey 2020 , by the Marine Stewardship Council and GlobeScan, 56% consumers are willing to pay more for seafood from a certified sustainable fishery. Be a voice for our seas by joining the Sustainable Fish Cities scheme. Additionally, a large number of consumers are rating sustainability as one of their priorities when choosing seafood.’

Which seafood products are sustainable and which ones should be avoided?

Have a look at our Fish Swap guide for information on which species you can keep on your menu and which ones you should avoid.  You can also use the UK wide Good Fish Guide from the Marine Conservation Society and focus on avoiding products labelled as ‘4’ or ‘5’.


Check out our Fish Swap Cards

Should we only be serving ‘local’ seafood?

Locally caught seafood has a smaller carbon footprint than seafood imported to Northern Ireland from other parts of the world. However, most seafood caught locally is exported, and most of the locally consumed seafood, like salmon and cod, are imported from elsewhere. But there are many other factors that contribute to the sustainability of seafood such as the method of fishing and gear used, as well as the location and time of year the seafood was caught.

Should I stop serving seafood all together?

There are many health benefits to eating seafood. All seafood varieties, including white fish, oily fish, and shellfish, are an excellent source of protein and are high in important nutrients. In fact, seafood is one of the healthiest foods on the planet with studies showing that consuming fish frequently reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

According to a study by the Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies and the University of British Columbia3, fishing was found to have “less impact on climate than the harvesting of other proteins”. In particular, the study found that each kg of fish caught produces between one and five kg of carbon. By comparison, red meat production is estimated to range from 50 to 750 kg of carbon per kg of meat.

3 – Parker, R.W.R., Blanchard, J.L., Gardner, C. et al. Fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions of world fisheries. Nature Clim Change 8, 333–337 (2018).

About us

The Sustainable Fish Cities NI campaign is led by Ulster Wildlife in partnership with the Belfast Food Network and with support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. We are part of a wider Sustainable Fish Cities campaign, conceived and supported by an alliance of not-for-profit organisations already working on sustainable seafood issues, coordinated by Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming.

We want to create the first ever Sustainable Fish Cities in NI - to show what can be done if people and organisations make a concerted effort to change their buying habits.

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