MCS takes some haddock fisheries off green list – but Scottish fishermen accuse it of ‘dressing advocacy up as science’
Friday 17 March 2017 00.01 GMT Last modified on Friday 17 March 2017 07.36 GMT
It is among the most popular fish in the UK, but haddock may soon be off the menu in some fish and chip shops because of dwindling stocks.
Haddock from three North Sea and west of Scotland fisheries have been removed from the Marine Conservation Society recommended “green” list of fish to eat, after stocks fell below the acceptable levels in 2016.
Action had to be taken to increase the number of breeding age fish, which is one of the UK’s “big five” marine species eaten, alongside cod, tuna, salmon and prawns, said the charity.
The MCS encouraged people to ask for “green-certified” haddock – caught in the north-east Arctic and Iceland – in fish and chip shops and on fish counters, or eat fish on the green list such as coley, mackerel and hake.
But Scottish fishermen’s representatives reacted angrily to the downgrade, accusing the MCS of “dressing advocacy up as science”.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said the advice could be damaging, causing already-caught fish to rot on fish counters. “We have gone to enormous lengths to maintain fishing stocks, including haddock,” he said. “We completely reject this [downgrade], it’s silly, it’s unhelpful and the public should ignore it.”
Armstrong said all Scottish fisheries adhered to fishing limits laid out by the Marine Stewardship Council. It was “unlikely” that the fish-eating British public would be put off eating haddock, he added. “Fish customers rightly trust their supplier to be responsible. This downgrade is something of nothing, they do it every year, it’s absolutely meaningless and counter-productive if anyone pays any notice.”