Marine Glossary


Bycatch - Bycatch refers to any fish or marine animals that have been unintentionally caught while fishing for other species. Sometimes this catch is used or sold, but often the bycatch is thrown back overboard.

Crustacean - Crustaceans are a group of clawed animals with exoskeletons and many legs. The term crustacean includes lobsters, crabs and shrimp (shrimp are sometimes known as prawns).

Discards - Discarding is the practice of returning unwanted fish to the sea. The returned fish, then called discards, are put back for a number of reasons including if the fish are too small or if the law states that fishermen have caught too many fish on this trip.

Ecolabel - An ecolabel provides environmental information on an independently-tested product. The MSC ecolabel is used on menus and packaging to show that the seafood you're eating comes from a certified sustainable source and is fully traceable.

Ecosystem - An ecosystem includes all plants and animals living in a particular habitat and interacting with each other.

Endangered - If an animal or plant is endangered then it is seriously at risk of becoming extinct.

Fish - Fish are cold-blooded animals that live in water and breathe using gills.

Fishery - The general term fishery can have a number of different meanings and is sometimes quite confusing! Fishery can mean the community of fishermen catching the fish, the geographical area that the fishing is taking place or the actual fish species in the water itself.

Fish Species - A fish species is a group of fish that have similar characteristics to each other and can produce young together. For example, haddock is a species of fish as all haddock have very similar features and breed to produce young haddock.

Food Supply Chains - A supply chain is a system of people or organisations involved in moving and changing a food product from its original form to something ready to be bought or eaten by you. A seafood supply chain begins with the fishermen that catch the fish and ends with your fishy dinner. There may be a number of different people that prepare the fish for eating and transport it to the shops before it can be bought.

Food Web - A food web is a diagram showing which animals eat which other animals or plants within an ecosystem. A food web can show a number of predators and prey, as well as the movement of energy between them.

Freshwater - The term freshwater refers to any natural water with low levels of salt - this includes lakes, rivers, streams and even ponds!

Habitat - A habitat is the natural environment or area where an animal or plant normally lives.

Marine - The term marine refers to the oceans and anything that can be found within them.

Marine Protected Areas - Marine Protected Areas are regions of the sea where human activities have been reduced to protect animals and plants from being disturbed or damaged.

Mollusc - Molluscs are very diverse, which means they have very different features. They do not have bones like we do and often have squidgy flesh protected by a shell. Octopus, scallops and mussels are all types of Mollusc.

Ocean - The oceans are very large expanses of sea and the term ocean allow us to divide up the sea into different regions. These geographical areas include the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean as well as a few others.

Overfishing - Overfishing is an environmental issue where the level of fishing is higher than acceptable levels. If fishing is not at a sustainable level, then fish can’t breed quickly enough to recover and populations can drop quickly.

Plankton - Plankton are microscopic plants and animals that float freely in the upper surface waters of all the oceans in the world. Microscopic plants, known as phytoplankton, absorb light and produce oxygen just like our trees and plants. Phytoplankton are the food source, or primary producer, at the start of all marine food webs.

Protected - If an animal or plant is protected then there are laws to ensure that no-one deliberately captures, injures or kills the species. Animals or plants are protected so they can hopefully recover in the future.

Sea - The sea is the enormous body of salty water that covers 70% of the world’s surface and surrounds all land.

Seafood - Seafood is a general term that covers any animals from the sea that humans eat. The term seafood covers both fish and shellfish.

Shellfish - Shellfish is a term that we use to describe any seafood we eat that isn't a fish. This includes any crustaceans or molluscs that we like to cook.

Sustainable Fishing - Sustainable fishing is fishing at a reasonable level that can be sustained by reproduction and growth within fish populations. If fishermen are fishing sustainably then they should be able to continue fishing forever as they have ensured that they don't take too many from the sea.

Threatened - Threatened species are any plants or animals that are vulnerable and may become endangered in the future.

Traceability - Traceability is the ability to pinpoint where an item has come from and what has happened to it along the supply chain. This is done by keeping tracking records. MSC seafood is traceable because on product packaging there is a number next to the blue MSC ecolabel that people can use to find out which fishermen caught the seafood and where it has been before arriving on your plate.

Marine Glossary