Depleted haddock must come off the menu, diners told

Cod and haddock are favourites in the

Cod and haddock are favourites in the

The Marine Conservation Society says haddock - easily the most eaten fish in the country - should be taken off the sustainable food list as its numbers have fallen below acceptable levels due to over fishing.

The Marine Conservation Society, however, said it had not called for haddock to be taken off menus, which it only does with fish with an "avoid" high score of five.

Haddock from the west coast fishery has dropped from being a good choice (rated two) to one to eat only occasionally (rated three).

"These ratings changes have come about because scientific perception of the stock has changed". It's one of the UK's "Big 5" fish species along with cod, tuna, salmon and prawns.

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 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. "We completely reject this [downgrade], it's silly, it's unhelpful and the public should ignore it".

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However, the majority of haddock supply used by United Kingdom processors and fried fish shops comes from Iceland or the Barents Sea (Norway), where stocks are in good shape and catch quotas are much higher than in the UK.

"The fishing industry is well used to these sorts of frankly meaningless publications - it's not so long ago that we were told that there were only 100 cod left in the North Sea". The MCS scale ranges from one to five, with one being the most sustainable.

"For haddock that has been the case since 2007 - and only past year advice from fisheries scientists at the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) was for an increase in the catch of 30%".

There were improvements for some other fisheries - with scampi from Farn Deeps fishery being upgraded from a rating of five to a four.

People buying American lobster are advised to choose ones which come from fisheries with a MSC certification, which means they implement stronger management to protect stocks and habitat and prevent bycatch. The variety available makes choosing tuna complicated, and the level of detail given on the Good Fish Guide enables the consumer to make a sustainable choice.

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