Study Guides - Principles of Marine Finfish Product Knowledge -

Guide launched 15th June 2016.



Guide Overview : This Study Guide has been set up for students and apprentices

who want an introduction to the knowledge and understanding needed by the Level 3 occupational unit - Principles of Marine Finfish Product Knowledge.

The unit is also suitable for anyone interested in marine finfish, their harvesting, preparation, trading, sales and consumption. We hope that this study guide (developed for Lee Cooper of Seafish by Adam Whittle) will be of interest to retailers, managers, students and others.

To provide feedback or suggest additional content please email the academy.

This study guide addresses the knowledge requirements of the Level 3 knowledge unit Principles of Marine Finfish Product Knowledge , providing access to resources on almost all marine finfish species of commercial importance in the UK.

Model learner worksheets have been developed for apprenticeship providers and assessors to use as model answers. They can be made available upon request.

This blank worksheet can be used to guide your studies of a particular species. Your assessor will explain how many species you will need to study to complete your unit.

The Principles unit supported by this Study Guide is a substantial unit worth 5 credits in a vocational qualification or apprenticeship. It is a level 3 unit and to complete it would take a minimum of 20 hours of guided learning.

We hope you enjoy the journey as you explore marine finfish product knowledge.


Information leaflets Documents DVDs and Videos Presentations


General Resources for this Study Guide:

Almost all of the resources needed to complete a study of one or more marine finfish species can be found on the internet using the links described below.

We have tried to select links that are stable, likely to be kept up to date by their owners and appropriate to your studies. However, as they are out of our direct control we cannot be held responsible for the content that the links lead to. We have tried to provide multiple expert sources for each topic so that you can weigh the evidence yourself.

If you have any concerns over the content or discover broken links or out of date information then please email

The following parts each relate to a specific learning outcome in the occupational unit Principles of Marine Finfish Product Knowledge

Torry Advisory Notes - a series of 80+ booklets developed in the 1960s and 70s but still of great interest today.  This FAO Saved Search should take you to the list of 80+ TANs.  If it does not then websearch FAO Torry Advisory Note.



Part 1 :Understand the range of marine finfish species and principles of harvesting and fish stocks

Understand the different types and names of marine fish caught around the UK and how are they caught.

1.1 The range of commercial fish species that are commonly defined as marine finfish including alternative legally acceptable or approved commercial names

Task - Describe the types and names of fish commonly sold in the UK.

Suggested resources:

DEFRA's commercial designations of fish document - the fish list

Seafood Academy - Seafood Guide for species information, seasonality etc. - use the green tab above.

M&J Seafood – Guide to seafood

Identifying UK marine fish - click here

Seafish Seafood UK Market summary - available here

Waitrose fish counter - click here to see what is available today

Online Fishmonger - The Fish Society

Fishbase: Marine science web site with access to pictures and names of fish from around the world.

Seafish Publications - a substantial and authorities source of information

Fish and Shellfish Identification open learning module NB: A DVD is also available from Seafish.

1.2 The methods commonly used to harvest these species and locations /regions/grounds from which they are harvested

Task - Describe the different types of fishing methods used around the UK and how these change depending on fish type and location. Where the various fishing areas and grounds are located.

Suggested resources

The business of fishing - seafish video and other fishing videos available from Seafish's YouTube Channel - "seafishtheauthority"

Seafish basic fishing methods - pdf guide

Seafish fishing downloads

Marine Conservation Society - how fish are caught, guide to fishing methods

FAO Fishing method fact sheets

FAO fishing areas information

Food Labeling guide for fishmongers including need to show where fish are caught.

1.3 The role of aquaculture in supplying marine finfish for retail sale

The majority of global farmed fish supply is of fresh water species. Atlantic salmon is by far the most important variety of fish that is farmed in European waters, strictly speaking salmon is not a marine finfish as it spends part of the life cycle in freshwater. It is included here as most laymen would consider it another finfish.

The important farmed marine fish in the UK market are sea bass and sea bream and to a lesser extent farmed halibut and turbot, some farms are now diversifying into other high value marine fish such as sole.

see wikipedia on aquaculture

Task - Explain how farming of sea fish currently supplies into the UK retail market.

Suggested resources:

  • See Seafish's Aquaculture Profiles microsite

  • FAO 2018 Report on the status of world aquaculture is available here Marine Harvest – The world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon.

    Loch Duart – smaller scale independent Scottish Salmon farm

    FAO farmed Sea bass fact sheet

    Seafish responsible sourcing guide for farmed Sea bass

    Gigha Halibut - Scottish halibut farming

    Norwegian Fisheries halibut web page

    FAO Turbot fact sheet

    The world’s largest Turbot producer? - Stolt Seafarms

    An overview of the importance of aquaculture in the catering trade by M&J Seafoods

    1.4 The current general state of fish stocks and species-specific issues including quotas, sustainability and the environmental impact of fishing/aquaculture methods.

    Task - Describe the current state of European fish stocks, including how much fish are allowed to be caught each year. Explain the sustainability and the impact on the environment of different fishing and fish farming methods.

    Suggested resources:

    A series of guides from Seafish which explore topical issues affecting the UK seafood industry and information sheets summarising stock status and management of the main European stocks assessed by ICES.

    The Seafish Guide to Aquaculture

    EC Fisheries – Total allowable catches and quotas

    European Environment Agency - status of stocks

    EC Maritime affairs and fisheries - status of stocks

    ICES review 2015 - improved status of stocks article

    World Ocean Review - status of stocks worldwide

    Marine Conservation Society - how fish are caught

    Marine Conservation Society – Fish to eat and fish to avoid information from 2011

    Marine Conservation Society – Good Fish Guide

    Pros and cons of fish farming

    Environmental impact of fish farming

    Waitrose fish information

    Tesco fish sustainability guide

    Sainsbury’s - Our future with fish

    M&S Forever Fish Initiative

    Presentations DVDs and Videos Documents Information leaflets



    Part 2 : 2 Understand the principles of processing, packing and distribution of marine finfish and seasonal impacts

    Understand how marine fish are processed, packaged and distributed across the UK and how this is impacted by seasonal variations in supply.

    2.1 The different methods used to process and distribute chilled and frozen marine finfish products commonly traded commercially in the UK

    Task - Describe the methods of processing and distributing chilled and frozen marine fish and products sold in the UK.

    Suggested resources

    The business of seafood processing by Seafish

    Wikipedia on fish processing

    Seafish – Seafood Processing Industry Report 2014

    Independent UK fish processor - viewpoint

    Seafish – 2012 survey of the UK Seafood Processing Industry

    Seafish - Fresh fish wholesale packaging datasheet

    FAO chilled fish packaging guide

    Seafish training videos - fish processing a guided tour:

    2.2 The impact of seasonal variations and adverse weather conditions on a specific product availability, condition, quality and typical price

    Task - Describe how seasonal variations and bad weather impact the availability, condition, quality and price of UK marine fish

    Suggested sources

    Marine Conservation Society – buying seasonal fish

    Grimsby Telegraph article – Fish prices soar as winter storms hit

    Seasonality information for individual species also available from:

    Seafood Academy - Seafood Guide for species information, seasonality etc.

    M&J Seafood – Guide to seafood

    2.3 The range of marine finfish products available including different packaging systems and processing methods such as MAP, Vac-Pack, smoking, marinating, drying

    Task - Describe a typical range of marine fish sold in UK retailers, including different processing and packaging methods such as Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), vacuum packaging, smoked, marinated, and dried products.

    Suggested sources

    Sainsbury’s Fish Range

    Waitrose Fish Range

    Fish for thought – online fishmonger

    Seafish guidelines

    2.4 Where to find up to date information on marine finfish for use by seafood retailers, wholesalers and consumers.

    Task - Describe where would you find up to date information on marine fish for use by wholesale, retail and consumers.

    Suggested resources

    Many of the above resources and hyperlinks are suitable.

    We would suggest the key sources for Retailers are:

    Seafish, in particular the RASS Database.

    The RASS (Risk Assessment for Sourcing Seafood) Database provides seafood buyers and processors with information on the biological status, management, and environmental effects of harvesting for a range of commercial fisheries. A guide to RASS is available here, while the actual database can be accessed here. The RASS Database can be used to download individual species profiles such as this Red Gurnard North East Atlantic Otter Trawl profile.

    DEFRA - Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs

    FAO - Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN

    Company specific training materials; Industry specific training schools and centres, Non departmental government bodies, online encyclopedia, online video resources.




    Part 3 : 3 Understand the principles of taste, flavour, nutrition of marine finfish and food safety issues

    Understand how to describe taste, flavour, nutritional benefits and food safety issues of marine fish.

    3.1 Taste and texture attributes of chilled, frozen and defrosted fish and how these are perceived by customers

    Task - Describe taste and texture of typical UK chilled, frozen and defrosted marine fish. How do these attributes affects customers' preferences?

    Suggested resources

    Seafish – Buying Seafood

    Fish is the dish - a comprehensive website developed by Seafish with information on nutrition, health, handling and cooking of fish and shellfish.

    See retailer guides in Part 3.2 for detailed nutritional analysis of individual products.

    Fish and shellfish safety information available from this Food Standards Agency pages on hygienic processing of fish.

    Seafish guide to eating two portions of fish a week.

    Seafish's (free) online eLearning programme on food hygiene in the seafood industry

    3.2 Species-specific attributes including flavour, texture, colour, oil content and packaging/presentation that may influence individual buying choices

    Task - Describe how taste, texture, colour, oil content and packaging of UK marine fish may influence what customers choose to buy.

    Suggested resources

    Fish is the dish - usual suspects lexicon

    Seafish – Sensory Assessment Scoresheets

    Online Wholesaler/Retailer Resources:


    3.3 The general nutrition and health issues, including any species-specific recommended consumption targets/limits

    Task - Describe the nutritional and health issues of eating marine fish. What are the recommended consumption targets/ limits

    Suggested resources

    Wikipedia - Fish as Food

    Seafish – Health benefits

    NHS - Fish & Shellfish in your diet

    3.4 The specific food safety risks such as potential presence of allergens, contaminants, and other threats to human health and how these risks may be mitigated.

    Task - Describe the food safety, allergen, contaminant and other risks to human health from eating marine fish? How can these be minimised?

    Suggested resources

    FDA Guidance

    SACN Advice on fish consumption

    Scombrotoxin – Histamine

    NHS - Fish & Shellfish in your diet

    Presentations DVDs and Videos Documents Information leaflets



    Part 4 : Understand the principles of consumer needs for marine finfish and quality assessment issues

    What the customer needs from marine fish, how does the quality of fish affect these requirements?

    4.1 Typical cuts and portion sizes for adults and children, and suggested cooking methods/recipes for commercial species

    Task - Describe the typical cuts and portion sizes for adults and children. Give suggested cooking methods and recipes for popular UK fish.

    Suggested resources

    Direct Seafoods ltd– fish cuts

    M&J Seafood – cuts and portions

    Recipes4us - Fish species and cuts and portions

    Recipes4us - recipes

    BBC recipe ideas

    BUPA portion sizes

    4.2 What alternative or substitute products and species may be suitable for the consumer, and the dietary, cultural or religious factors that may mitigate your advice

    Task - Give alternative products and fish types for popular UK marine fish. Explain how the dietary or religious/ cultural factors may affect your advice.

    Suggested resources

    Fish Alternatives (within species guides) M&J Fishipedia

    Fish is the dish - substitute species info graphic is no longer available.
    Wikipedia - Comparison of Islamic and Jewish dietary laws

    4.3 The fish quality assessment and quality indicators that apply to marine finfish/finfish products, and the limitations of shelf-life and best before dates

    Task - Explain how can you use your senses to assess fish quality? Explain how different quality indicators of marine fish change as quality reduces and the limitations of shelf life and best before dates.

    Suggested resources

    Seafish – Factsheet on quality and Quality Assessment scoresheets

    Seafish quality assessment training videos on YouTube

    Scottish Govt – Fish Quality Assessment

    FAO Fish Quality Assessment

    Google Books search

    4.4 The appropriate recommendations to consumers for handling and storage prior to consumption.

    Task - Describe what recommendations you would offer to customers for handling and storing fish at home

    Suggested resources:

    NHS – How to store food properly

    Seafish - Buying fish

    Presentations DVDs and Videos Documents Information leaflets

    This study guide will be updated from time to time and new resources are added and older out of date sources replaced. We appreciate and welcome any feedback and suggestions for additional content you may have.