Tips for selecting fresh seafood

As our seafood is caught and sold directly by us, we guarantee its freshness.  That said, we like our customers to be well informed when it comes to assessing seafood for its quality. Here are our tips for selecting fresh seafood.

Whole Fish

A fresh fish will have bright, clear, shiny, full eyes that are often protruding.  As a fish loses freshness, the eyes become cloudy and sunken.  Therefore, if the eyes look good, you can bet with confidence that the fish is fresh and healthy.

The tail and dorsal fins of the fish should be healthy-looking, wet, and intact. A fish that’s been mishandled will have torn or ragged fins, while an older fish’s fins will be dry and brittle.

The fish should also feel cold, wet, and slippery, but not sticky. When pressed, it should spring back to its natural shape, just like if you were to press on your own flesh.

The gills should be bright red or pink. Avoid fish with dull-coloured gills that are grey, brown, or green. Fresh fish should be free of loose or sloughing slime.  Skin should still have a bright, shiny appearance.


Fish Fillets

With an almost translucent flesh, fresh fillets should also be firm, elastic to the touch and moist.  Should the fillet have browning at the edges, bruising or reddening of the flesh (from the retention of blood), it will indicate the fillet is not of the finest quality.

fish fillet


Fresh scallops have a firm texture and a typically sweet odour. A sour or iodine smell indicates a decline in quality. Sea scallops are generally creamy white, although they may show some normal light orange or pink colour.


Live crabs and lobsters

Live crabs and lobsters will not be very active if they have been refrigerated, but they should move at least a little.  Ideally, the lobster tail will curl tightly underneath the body when picked up.  Expect a bright red colour for cooked lobsters or crabs in the shell.  Lobster meat will be pure white with red tints, while crab meat is white with red or brown tints, depending on the species or the section of the body it was picked from.



Oysters may be sold live, cooked, or fresh-shucked.  Live oyster shells should be moist, tightly closed and the bottom shell, well cupped (a sign that the oyster itself should be well formed and plump).   Shucked oyster meat should be plump and covered with their own liquor, which should be clear or slightly milky and free of shell or grit. There should also be no strong smell.


Prawn shells should be translucent with a pinkish or greyish green tint, depending on the variety.  There should be no black edges or spots.  Prawn meat should be firm, and white with pink tints, and have a mild smell.

prawn photo

We’re here to help!

And if you are still unsure, our friendly staff is always on hand to assist with your selection.  Pop down to Gem Pier Seafood barge and speak to Kelli, Britt, Hannah, Will and Dayna.

And finally, Bon Appetit!

fish and chips