UK haddock gets thumbs up from good fish guide

Published on
October 10, 2018
battered haddock

Haddock caught in the North Sea and west of Scotland fisheries can now be considered a good choice for consumers after being upgraded in the latest seafood ratings on the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Good Fish Guide.

Haddock is one of the United Kingdom’s most popular species and a favorite in the fish-and-chips channel. The newly-rated Rockall fishery has recieved a 1 ranking for the first time by the guide, meaning it can be considered a “best choice.” At the same time, the rating for haddock from the North Sea and west of Scotland has been improved from 3 to 2, making it a “good choice.” MCS cites reduced fishing pressure and increasing stock sizes for the new rating.

With regard to other popular species with updated ratings, MCS said that squid was a “mixed bag” when it comes to consumer choice, despite it becoming a “trendy starter” on many menus. Eleven squid fisheries have either been updated or rated for the first time, and while jig-caught squid – a highly selective method – from the English Channel and Scotland are rated 3 (OK), elsewhere, squid has a 5 (avoid) rating due to a combination of factors including limited stock assessment and poor management.

Similarly, Dover sole is a 2-rated (good choice) fish if its acquired from the western English Channel, Cornwall, or the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified North Sea fishery. However, Dover sole that's trawled from the Irish Sea or electric-pulse trawled from the North Sea is rated as an avoidable 5 by MCS.

Through its ranking endeavors, MCS hopes to ultimately increase the profile of sustainable seafood in consumers' minds, the organization explained. 

“Choosing sustainable seafood is a complex issue not helped by a lack of clear labeling on most seafood products. That lack of information means that consumers need all the help they can get. Using the Good Fish Guide will point people in the right direction and start the sustainability conversation with the fishmonger or restaurant. If consumers can start asking ‘Is that sustainable?’, seafood suppliers will need to have an answer,” said Bernadette Clarke, MCS Good Fish Guide program manager.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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