Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Pelagic trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Irish Sea
Stock detail


Picture of Haddock

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

The status of Irish Sea haddock was unknown with respect to reference points until 2017 but is now fully assessed. The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) is currently at the highest observed levels and fishing mortality (F) has been below FMSY since 2012. Since 2012 technical gear measures to increase the selectivity of the fishery have become mandatory and appear successful in susbstantially reducing discard rates in the 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

Criterion score: 0 info

Stock Area

Irish Sea

Stock information

This stock was benchmarked in January 2017. As a result the assessment and advice for it have changed. The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) is currently at the highest observed levels as the 2013 year class has matured. SSB is currently well above MSY Btrigger. Fishing mortality (F) has been below FMSY since 2012. Recent recruitment has been above the time-series mean, although recruitment has been highly variable throughout the time-series. The estimate of SSB from the UK Fisheries Science Partnership survey (UK-FSP) in 2017 (not included in the current assessment) has the highest value in the series and shows the appearance of older year classes in very recent years. ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2018 should be no more than 3444 tonnes (1286 in 2017).


Criterion score: 0.5 info

There is no agreed precautionary management plan for haddock in this area. Vessels actively targeting haddock have been subject to the EU landing obligation since 2016.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Haddock in the Irish Sea is taken both in Nephrops and in mixed demersal trawl fisheries, for cod and whiting, using mid-water and otter trawls. 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. The discard rates for all fleets in 2011 were 99-100% for one-year old fish. In 2015 44% of the catch of 1485 tonnes of haddock was discarded with otter trawls accounting for 91% of the discards and Nehrops trawls 67%. In 2016 estimated discard rates have reduced substantially to 22% of the total catch with otter trawls accounting for 41% of the discards and Nephrops trawls 46%. There have been a number of industry initiatives to reduce discarding, specifically in fisheries for Nephrops using smaller mesh sizes, 80 mm compared to 100+ mm to target cod and other species. Since 2012 it has been mandatory for all Irish and UK (Northern Ireland) vessels to use specified species-selective gears, e.g. sorting grids or square mesh panels and separator trawls. Whilst they are primarily aimed at reducing cod bycatch, they will also reduce catches of unwanted haddock. Grids have been shown to reduce catches of less than 25 cm haddock to negligible levels. The minimum landing size for haddock in EU waters is 30cm (27cm in Skaggerak/Kattegat).


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 5 http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2017/2017/had.27.7a.pdf