North Sea haddock pulled off ‘fish to eat’ list, higher rating for American lobster

Published on
March 17, 2017

The latest seafood ratings on the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Good Fish Guide have seen three haddock fisheries in the North Sea and west of Scotland area downgraded due to a change in scientific advice, meaning the fish is no longer on the charity’s recommended green list of fish to eat.  

Haddock is one of the United Kingdom’s most popular species and a favorite in the fish-and-chip channel, but two North Sea haddock fisheries have now been rated 4 (amber), and the other has dropped from being a good choice (rated 2) to one to eat only occasionally (rated 3).

“These ratings changes have come about because scientific perception of the stock has changed. Compared to 2015, the stock numbers in 2016 were below the recommended level and at the point where action is now needed to increase the number of fish of breeding age,” said Bernadette Clarke, manager of the MCS Good Fish Guide.

Starting to move in the opposite direction, nephrops – commonly known as scampi – from the Farn Deeps fishery has been re-rated from a 5 (Fish to Avoid) to a 4, in recognition of improved management. There were also improvements for scampi fisheries in the west of Scotland, Clyde and Jura catch areas.

The updated guide includes new ratings from further afield. Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified American lobster (Homarus americanus) caught on the Canadian side of the Atlantic and in the Northeast U.S. (Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank fisheries) has a 2 green rating in recognition of the management measures in place that protect the stocks, habitat and avoid the by-catch of endangered species, said Clarke.

There was also good news for North Atlantic albacore tuna. The longline and pelagic trawl fisheries for this stock have improved from a 4 to a 3 and a 3 to a 2 for troll and pole-and-line fisheries.

MCS said new stock assessments have revealed the population has recovered to a healthy level after previously being overfished. South Atlantic albacore has also seen similar improvements.

Bigeye tuna in the East Pacific Ocean, on the other hand, has been downgraded from a 3 to a 4 for the purse seine and longline fisheries because the stock is now in an overfished state, it said.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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