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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.

Further reading: http://www.seafish.org/rass/index.php/profiles/haddock-in-north-sea-skagerrak-and-west-of-scotland-demersal-otter-trawl/

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