Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Southern Celtic Seas and English Channel
Stock detail


Picture of Haddock

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

The stock in this area is declining, but from a high level, due to low recruitment and high fishing mortality. Scientific advice is that fishing effort needs to be reduced and measures introduced to reduce discards. Discarding is a major problem for this fishery, especially when the total allowable catch (TAC) is restrictive or too low and catches exceed quotas.


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: 0.25 info

Stock Area

Southern Celtic Seas and English Channel

Stock information

Prior to 2012 ICES advice was based on a trends-only assessment. The basis for scientific advice is now the MSY approach. Recruitment is highly variable. High levels of discarding of juvenile haddock are known to occur in this fishery, preventing the stock from growing, following strong year classes.
Spawning stock biomass has declined since 2011 and is above MSY Btrigger. Fishing mortality (F) has been above FMSY for the entire time-series. Recruitment in 2017 was below the average and among the lowest estimated.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is above FMSY, but below Fpa and Flim, and that the Spawning stock size is above MSY Btrigger, Bpa, and Blim.
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 6317 tonnes (8358 in 2018; 12 444 in 2017; 8,590 t in 2016; 10,434 t in 2015; 5281 t in 2014).


Criterion score: 0.75 info

There are no specific management objectives for this fishery. Square mesh panels were introduced into the fishery in 2012 to reduce discarding of immature fish. There is no evidence however of improved selectivity of young fish due to their introduction.
An apparent misalignment between the TAC for haddock and the widespread abundance of the species across the main fishing grounds in the Celtic Sea, has generated a high rate of discards of mature haddock. Since 2010 the fleets operating in the mixed fisheries of the Celtic Sea and Western Channel have experienced increasingly large numbers of haddock in their catch. There are signs that there has been an expansion in both the stock size and its distribution further south and west of its historical distribution.
Total discards increased in 2016 and were above the level of the landings for the first time since 2011. Discards by weight continued to be high in 2017, comprising 50%, despite the introduction of square-mesh panels.
Haddock are caught in mixed fisheries with cod and whiting; scientists advise that management should take this into account.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

Haddock are caught in these areas in mixed demersal fisheries. Some fleets are using 80mm mesh nets to target Nephrops. There is potential 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. Discarding is a major problem for this fishery, with 81% (49% by weight) of the haddock catch discarded in the last decade. Discards are estimated at 50% in 2017 (58% in 2016: 44% in 2015; 24% in 2014) with otter trawls accounting for 81% of the haddock discarded. Where quotas are restrictive, i.e. where catches exceed Total Allowable Catches (TACs), high levels of discarding occur. The fishing industry, through the North Western Waters Regional Advisory Council (NWWRAC), has recently supported the introduction of square mesh panels in all trawl fisheries to reduce discarding.


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
Cod, Pacific Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


ICES Advice 2018, http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2018/2018/had.27.7b-k.pdf