The VISwijzer is a database containing all the fish that is traded in the Netherlands. This may be freshwater fish, fish caught in our oceans or farmed fish. The VISwijzer allows consumers to quickly and easily find out whether the fish in the supermarket, at the fishmonger’s or in a restaurant is a responsible choice or not.
Assessing and determining whether a fish is sustainable or not is a complex process. To make it as easy as possible for you, here is everything you need to know on how to use the VISwijzer.
Before you can see the different ratings, you first have to find out which fish you are dealing with. In the search bar, you can search for the species name of the fish, but also for its Latin name. That way you can ensure that you will find the right fish.
It is also possible to search for example on fish in season, local fish or fish with a green score. To do so, click on the word ‘All’ in the search bar and make your choice.
Most fish species on the VISwijzer have several ratings. A fish may, for example, be caught using different fishing techniques and/or in different areas (also referred to as FAO). This can also be the case for farmed fish, for example, if the farming method is different for each farm. These differences can have an effect on the assessments.
The origin and the farming/catching method can be used to find the correct assessment. This information is required by law to be displayed on fish products. In the supermarket, this information can be found on the back of the packaging. At the fishmonger’s or in a restaurant this information is unfortunately still too often missing, so ask your fishmonger or the chef-cook for this information when in doubt, don’t buy the fish.
Now that you have found the right assessment, it is important to understand how it is constructed. We distinguish between wild-caught fish, farmed fish and fish with a label.
Wild caught fish
With wild-caught fish, the final assessment is determined by the fish stock & fishing pressure (how much of a fish there is and how much is caught), the effects on the ecosystem (what effect the fishery has on other species and the habitat) and the management of the fishery (the laws and regulations and how strictly they are observed and monitored).
For farmed fish, the final assessment is determined by the source use (the sustainability of feed and other materials), the impact on the environment (how harmful the farming is to the environment) and the management of the farm (the laws and regulations and how strictly they are observed and monitored).
Fish with a label
Some assessments do not have a colour rating, but instead carry an MSC or ASC label. These assessments are assessed separately by these organisations and therefore do not have a VISwijzer color. Most species with these labels are sustainable and you can eat them without doubt.
Fish in season
With most ratings, there is also a bar with all the months, which are coloured grey or turquoise. This does not say much about the sustainability, but it does show when a fish is of the best quality. Fish in season is best bought in the months that are coloured turquoise.
Are you also interested in some general information about the fish, for example its lifestyle, size and eating habits? Then open the ‘information about the fish species’ bar. You will first get some information about the family to which this fish belongs and then information about the specific fish you have searched for.