A variety of organisations responded to MCS’s advice of Haddock (see below) prompting this response from MCS.
MCS Clarification on Seafood Ratings Advice – 17th March 2017
‘In response to today’s media coverage of our latest ratings for seafood update, and specifically for our revised advice for haddock from North Sea and West of Scotland areas, the Marine Conservation Society would like to clarify the following points.
- MCS has not called for haddock be taken off menus. MCS only actively asks this when a fishery or farming method is red rated (rated 5). The new ratings for North Sea and West of Scotland haddock are 3 and 4.
- The new ratings come after the latest scientific advice from ICES which was released in November last year. This advice indicated that the levels of fishing that can be considered sustainable for this population are lower than previously thought, meaning a smaller proportion should be caught. This means that advice for catches in 2017 are 47% lower than originally advised for catches in 2016. Latest quotas have been reduced in line with this scientific advice, and the biomass is expected to significantly increase this year.
- Recruitment – the number of young fish joining the fishery – has tended to be consistently lower since 2000, and consequently scientists have under-estimated the reference points used to determine stock and exploitation status, which are considered to be more representative of the productivity of the stock.
Contrary to some suggestions, consumers should not expect to see a shortage of haddock in shops.
A new assessment will be undertaken later this year, when new ICES advice becomes available, and if the health of the fishery has improved as expected, this will be reflected in MCS ratings. Through our Good Fish Guide, we encourage people to make informed buying decisions, and to try and choose seafood from the fisheries and farming methods that have the least impact on our seas. Read the advice we provide for haddock here.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has demanded that the Marine Conservation Society retract its misleading comments about North Sea and West of Scotland haddock stocks. The organisation reacted angrily to the MCS’s “downgrade” of haddock in its latest consumer guide, insisting that the fishery is well-managed at sustainable levels. SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “The MCS has completely misunderstood the position as far as haddock stocks are concerned and should withdraw its utterly misleading comments. “The organisation is trying to alter consumer behaviour on completely false premises and should desist at once.
BBC ‘The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has given its backing to Scottish North Sea haddock after it was taken off a list of sustainable “fish to eat”. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) downgraded the fish on its Good Fish Guide after stock numbers fell. But, which certifies the sustainability of fish and seafood, contradicted the MCS advice. It insisted consumers can enjoy haddock suppers with a “clear conscience”. Haddock from three North Sea and west of Scotland fisheries is no longer on the MCS’s recommended “green” list of fish to eat. They were downgraded because stock numbers in 2016 were below the recommended level and action was needed to increase the number of fish at breeding age. To read more.