Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Celtic Sea
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 is restrictive or too small 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

Celtic Sea

Stock information

Prior to 2012 ICES advice was based on a trends-only assessment. The basis for scientific advice is now the MSY approach. The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) peaked in 2011 as the very strong 2009 year class matured; this cohort was followed by three years of below-average recruitment which although led to a rapid decline in SSB after 2011 it is currently well above MSYBtrigger. Fishing mortality remains high and has been above FMSY for the entire time-series. Recruitment is highly variable and in 2016 is below average. High levels of discarding of juvenile haddock are known to occur in this fishery, preventing the stock from growing, following strong year classes. ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2018 should be no more than 8358 tonnes (12 444 tonnes in 2017; 8,590 t in 2016; 10,434 t in 2015; 5281 t in 2014). If discard rates do not change from the long-term average, this implies landings of no more than 5911 tonnes and a discard rate of 29%.


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 of improved selectivity of young fish due to their introduction. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) has been restrictive in recent years, which has resulted in increased levels of discarding of fish over the minimum conservation reference size (MCRS). Total discards increased in 2016 and are above the level of the landings for the first time since 2011. 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 58% in 2016 (44% in 2015; 24% in 2014) with otter trawls accounting for 83% 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
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, http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2017/2017/had.27.7b%E2%80%93k.pdf