Haddock in stormy waters, but American lobster claws up MCS ranking

Haddock in stormy waters, but American lobster claws up MCS ranking

The Marine Conversation Society (MCS) has removed haddock from its recommended green list of fish to eat after three haddock fisheries in the North Sea and West of Scotland area were downgraded.

Haddock is a popular choice with seafood consumers and a favourite at the chip shop. It’s one of the UK’s ‘Big 5’ fish species along with cod, tuna, salmon and prawns.

Two North Sea haddock fisheries are now rated 4 (amber), and the other has dropped from being a good choice (rated 2) to one to eat only occasionally (rated 3).

Bernadette Clarke, MCS Good Fish Guide Manager, said: “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.”

The Marine Conservation Society has updated its comprehensive set of advice on the website, and although fisheries for haddock are doing less well than in previous years, other seafood choices are looking more positive.

Nephrops, commonly known as scampi, from Farn Deeps fishery, has been re-rated from a 5 (Fish to Avoid) to a 4, in recognition of improved management – and although it’s some way off being sustainable, it’s a step in the right direction. There were also improvements for scampi fisheries in the west of Scotland, Clyde and Jura catch areas.

The Guide includes new ratings from further afield. American lobster caught on the Canadian side of the Atlantic and in the Northeast US (Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank fisheries) has become more common and clawed its way into UK supermarkets at Christmas.

“Remember to choose fish from Marine Stewardship Council certified fisheries when choosing American lobster (green rated 2),” said Ms Clarke, “These generally implement stronger management methods to protect the stocks, habitat and to avoid the bycatch of endangered species.”