Cuttlefish caught in English Channel given a red rating by Marine Conservation Society

Published on
March 13, 2020

Trawl-caught cuttlefish from the English Channel have been named a “fish to avoid by the U.K.’s Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

The Marine Conservation Society produces Good Fish Guide ratings for commercial marine and freshwater fisheries in the United Kingdom. Its ratings are based on scientific findings compared to custom assessment criteria created by the organization.

Confirming the move to give English Channel-caught cuttlefish to a red traffic light rating in the guide, the NGO said that there had been dramatic growth in the number of cuttlefish caught in the last decade, fueled by a huge increase in their value, while populations had fallen.

“Between 2008 and 2017, catches of cuttlefish more than doubled,” MCS Good Fish Guide Manager Charlotte Coombes said. “The dramatic increase in catches, alongside several reports identifying a rapid decline in cuttlefish populations in the English Channel, has led to a red rating in the update to the Good Fish Guide.”

Other changes in the guide’s ratings include brown crab caught in creels around Shetland, which join the green-rated “best choice” list. MCS said the upgrade was a result of a reduction in fishing pressure and tighter controls on harvesting.

At the same time, Atlantic wolfish caught in Iceland are no longer a “fish to avoid” after being given an amber rating.

Meanwhile, MCS has taken non-certified pole and line-caught skipjack tuna from the Indian Ocean off the “best choice” list, making it amber-rated. Finally, all Isle of Man queen scallops are now red-rated.

Due to fishing pressure, habitat damage and diminishing numbers, urgent action is required to recover red-rated fish populations like the trawl-caught cuttlefish and the Isle of Man queen scallop, MCS said.

At the end of last year, the charity launched the new campaign, “Say no to red-rated fish,” calling on consumers to pledge to avoid eating red-rated seafood, and to also show their support for businesses to remove unsustainable fish from sale and for governments to do more to reduce the pressure on at-risk species.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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