September 5, 2008

Shoppers Told to Steer Clear of West-Coast Haddock Amid Overfishing Fears


CONSUMERS are being urged to avoid buying haddock caught off the west coast of Scotland because of fears about overfishing.

In its latest guide, listing which fish to eat and which to avoid, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) adds haddock to its danger list, along with Dover sole "beamtrawled" from the North Sea or Irish Sea and albacore tuna caught by longline and trawling in the south Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

The charity, dedicated to the protection of the seas, shores and wildlife, also said in its report published today that the labelling of seafood sold in the UK is not fit for purpose and is confusing customers who want to choose sustainable varieties.

But representatives of the fishing industry described the recommendations as out-ofdate, ill-informed and often based on little more than personal opinion, while academics said there were "some gaping holes" in the research.

According to the report, haddock is so overfished off the west coast and around the Faroes that a ban on its catch in these areas has been recommended for next year. Endangered cod are being caught alongside the haddock.

Instead, haddock from the north-east Arctic is recommended Line- caught fish are also recommended.

Other stocks considered to be in danger off the west coast include halibut, with numbers thought to be at a historic low, and herring, which is also likely to be depleted.

Cod stocks off the west coast and in the North Sea are among "the most depleted", while wild Atlantic salmon is also low in numbers while "fishing pressure" on Dover and common sole caught in the North Sea is classified as "higher than recommended".

In all, the MCS advises consumers to avoid almost 70 stocks of seafood. The fish to eat list includes pollack, dab, gurnard and Alaskan or organically farmed Atlantic salmon.

However, labelling of processed products and at fresh fish counters and in takeaways and restaurants "remains poor and, in many cases, non-existent", the MCS said.

The charity's fisheries officer, Sam Wilding, said: "Labelling of seafood sold in the UK is lacking detail This is leading to confusion amongst consumers who really want to make the best sustainable seafood choice.

"It is vital that consumers are given better information " Bertie Armstrong, of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, was critical of the report's contents. He said: "Although the aims are laudable the they are also certainly inaccurate and based largely on personal opinion. There are more sensible guides out there."

Dr Andrew Burrows, an expert on salmon and trout at the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment at Loch Lomond, said there were a number of gaps in the study but the advice where his own specialist species was concerned was "generally sound".

On the menu

Fine for a supper

Abalone or ormer (farmed only). Alaska or walleye pollack. Bib or pouting. Black bream, porgy or seabream. Clams including American hardshell, carpet shell, manila, razor and warty venus. Cockle (hand- gathered only).

Atlantic cod (organically farmed only). Pacific Cod (MSC certified from Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands only). Coley or saithe (MSC certified and from Norwegian waters only). Crab (edible or brown pot caught off south Devon or spider, pot caught only).

Steer clear

Alfonsinos or golden eye perch. Anchovy (from Bay of Biscay). Anglerfish, monkfish or goosefish (from north and north-west Spain and Portuguese coast). Argentine or great silver smelt. Black scabbardfish (from all areas except Portuguese coast). Blue ling.

Brill (from all areas except Baltic Sea). Chilean sea bass or Patagonian toothfish (from all areas except the South Georgia fishery). Altantic cod (caught from areas except north-east Arctic, Iceland, Western Channel, Bristol Channel, south-east Ireland, Sole). Dogfish, spurdog, rock salmon or flake.

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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