Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — North Sea, Skagerrak and West of Scotland
Stock detail — IV, IIIa and VIa
Certification — Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Picture of Haddock

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Fishing pressure on the haddock stock in these areas is too high. To help reduce the impact of fishing on fish stocks which are heavily fished, choose line-caught fish where available or if trawl-caught, ask for fish from boats using measures such as eliminator trawls and closed-circuit TV, and fully documented fisheries (FDF) to protect them and reduce bycatch and discarding. There is a seine and trawl fishery (Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group (SFSAG)) for haddock in the North Sea certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in October 2010. Certified and therefore fully traceable haddock is the best choice for this fishery.


Haddock is a cold-temperate (boreal) species. It is a migratory fish, found in inshore shallow waters in summer and in deep water in winter. Smaller than cod, it can attain a length of 70-100 cm and can live for more than 20 years. It spawns between February and June, but mostly in March and April. In the North Sea, haddock become sexually mature at an age of 3-4 years and a length of 30-40 cm. Maturity occurs later and at greater lengths in more northern areas of its range.

Stock information

Stock Area

North Sea, Skagerrak and West of Scotland

Stock information

The Northern Shelf haddock stock was previously assessed as two separate stocks (North Sea and Skagerrak and West of Scotland). Based on evidence that the stocks are not biologically distinct they are now being assessed as one. Fishing mortality (F) has been fluctuating above FMSY for most of the time-series and is above FMSY in 2016. Spawning stock biomass (SSB) has been mostly above MSY Btrigger since 2002. Recruitment since 2000 has been characterized by a low average level with occasional larger year classes, the size of which is diminishing. The 2014 recruitment estimate is higher than recent low recruitment, but is still below the long-term average. ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2018 should be no more than 51 037 tonnes (39,461 tonnes in 2017; 74,854t in 2016; 54,580t in 2015).


There is currently no agreed management plan for haddock for the full stock area. A management plan for the whole new assessment area now needs to be developed, taking into account the need to protect local components of the stock.

Capture Information

Haddock is primarily caught by demersal otter trawl and seiners. It is a specific target for some fishing fleets but is also caught as part of a mixed fishery catching cod, whiting and Nephrops. There is potential for damage to the seabed from trawling. Trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species. Since haddock is mostly taken in mixed fisheries with cod and whiting, ICES scientists have advised that fishing for haddock should take place without bycatch or discards of cod. Cod in the North Sea region is recovering and conservation measures, such as the use of eliminator trawls and the Conservation Credits scheme (see below), pioneered by the Scottish fishing industry, aim to reduce the bycatch and discarding of cod associated with the mixed fisheries for cod, haddock, and nephrops. Since 2002 the minimum cod end mesh size is 120mm. The minimum landing size for haddock in EU waters is 30cm (27cm in Skaggerak/Kattegat). In 2008 Scotland implemented a national scheme known as the Conservation Credits Scheme. The principle of this scheme involves additional time at sea in return for the adoption of measures (real time closures and technical measures) which aim to reduce mortality on cod and lead to a reduction in discard numbers. In 2010 there were 165 closures, and from July 2010 the area of each closure increased (from 50 square nautical miles to 225 square nautical miles). The effects of this regulation on the behaviour of the fleet and on the haddock stock are still under investigation. Haddock caught in the area West of Scotland is caught mainly by Scottish and Irish bottom trawlers which target mixed demersal fish including nephrops or Dublin bay prawns.There has been a marked decline in the demersal white fish fleet in this area whilst effort in the other major gear type, Nephrops trawlers using smaller meshes (70-99mm), has remained stable. High discard rates are associated with this fishery. EU emergency measures implemented in 2009 in the area impose strict bycatch limits (30% cod, haddock and whiting combined). Discards for the haddock fishery in the stock area in 2014 are estimated at 5kt or 11%.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Bass, seabass (Farmed)
Bream, Gilthead (Farmed)
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Japanese amberjack, Yellowtail or Seriola
Pollack or Lythe
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Pouting or Bib
Sturgeon (Farmed)


ICES Advice 2017, Book 6 http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2017/2017/had.27.46a20.pdf