Haddock

Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Longline
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Faroes grounds
Stock detail — 5b
Picture of Haddock

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Updated: December 2019 

Having been at worryingly low levels from 2009-2017, the Faroe Islands haddock stock is now in a good state, with biomass well above the target point and fishing pressure just below. This appears to be a result of environmental changes rather than good management. Zero catch was advised from 2009-2016, but a relatively high catch continued, generally staying above 3,000 tonnes. Preliminary catch in 2018 was 5,588 tonnes, whereas the advice was for 4,570t. There is no management plan for this stock, and no agreed Total Allowable Catch, but an effort management system has been in place since 1996. This works by allocating a number of days at sea, however a large amount of the effort allocation is unused each year, meaning that it is not restricting the fishery. ICES recommends using a quota rather than effort-based system. Longlining is a less fuel intensive and generally more selective method of fishing than trawling. However, this fishery is responsible for bycatch of juvenile and young haddock. There is also possible bycatch of shark and other non-target species, including seabirds.

Biology

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

Faroes grounds

Stock information

The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) of Faroe Island haddock was below Blim (16,780 tonnes) from 2009-2017, but has been above MSY Btrigger (22,843t) since 2018. In 2019 it was at its highest level since 2005, at 51,198t. Fishing mortality (F) has gradually decreased since 1998, and was just below FMSY (0.165) in 2018 (0.163) for the first time on record. Recruitment of young fish into the fishery in 2016-2019 was higher than in previous years.

ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2020 should be no more than 11 590 tonnes. This is a 57% increase on the previous year’s advice, owing to the increase in biomass resulting from the higher recruitment and lower fishing mortality in recent years.

Zero catch was advised from 2009-2016, but a relatively high catch continued, generally staying above 3,000 tonnes. Preliminary catch in 2018 was 5,588 tonnes, whereas the advice was for 4,570t.

Management

Criterion score: 0.75 info

There is no management plan for this stock, and no agreed Total Allowable Catch, but an effort management system has been in place since 1996. Haddock catches are below scientific advice, but this is not through management measures. ICES recommends using a quota rather than effort-based system.

A catch quota management system was introduced in Faroes fisheries in 1994, but was met with considerable criticism and resulted in discarding and in misreporting of catches. Reorganization of enforcement and control did not solve the problems and it was discontinued in May 1996. In close cooperation with the fishing industry, in June 1996 the Faroese government introduced a new system based on individual transferable effort quotas in days within fleet categories. The categories were: 1) large pair trawlers; 2) large longliners; 3) coastal trawlers and longliners; 4) small coastal vessels, e.g. jiggers; and 5) gillnetters and others. One fishing day for group 1 was equivalent to 2 fishing days for group 2, for example, therefore small longliners could double their allocation by switching to jigging. While the number of days allocated has greatly reduced over time, there are still a large number of unused days. This system doesn’t seem to have accounted for changes in efficiency through gear developments, or preferential targeting of one species (cod) over others (haddock and saithe). While Faroe Plateau saithe and haddock catches are below the advised limits, cod catches have been higher than the advice since 2014.

A new management plan based agreed by the fishing industry, Faroe Marine Research Institute and Faroe Coastal Guard was supposed to be implemented in January 2019, but was postponed to 1st January 2020. It regulated large trawlers and longliners through quotas, and other gears through licenses for fishing days as before. However, an alternative plan has since been proposed, maintaining the old fishing days system and introducing harvest control rules for cod, haddock and saithe. The HCRs aim to keep fishing mortalities within sustainable limits, with a recovery plan for when spawning stocks are below certain limits. A buffer limits the change in the number of fishing days to -5%, 0% or 5% from one year to the next. The management plan is not implemented yet.

ICES recommends that the plan keep fishing mortality close to FMSY in order to obtain maximum catch and avoid low stock levels in the future. There seems to be a poor relationship between the number of fishing days and fishing mortality because of large fluctuations in catchability. The introduction of quotas should lead to stronger regulation of fishing pressure if discarding is prevented. Area restrictions may also help to reduce fishing mortality, but they cause practical problems for the fishing fleets (e.g. high concentrations of vessels in certain areas).

There is a risk that cod and haddock stocks may be overfished during periods with low sandeel abundance. This is because during low prey availability cod and haddock are easier to catch, partly because longline bait becomes a preferential food source. However, recruitment during these periods is low and stocks can decrease rapidly, while CPUE remains high and masks the stock status. The proposed management plan, especially the limits of fishing mortalities, needs to be scrutinised to ensure that it is sustainable.

There are a number of restrictions on where and when different gear types can fish. Due to the serious decline of the Faroe Bank cod, the Bank has been closed since 1 January 2009 for all gears except for a minor jigging fishery during summertime.

A fishing agreement has been in place between the Faroe Islands, the EU, and Norway since 2013. The Faroe Islands are also a member of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). Vessels listed on the NEAFC Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated list (blacklist”) are not permitted to call at ports, receive services and supplies or change crew members in any port of the member countries of NEAFC. All vessels above 20 m overall length fishing in Faroese waters (both Faroese-registered and non-Faroese) must be fitted with satellite vessel monitoring systems (VMS), and must maintain up-to-date daily log-sheet records of fishing activity, positions and catches. “

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

66% of haddock are caught in longlines and 34% in trawls. Almost all is taken by the Faroe Islands with a small amount by the UK and Norway. Longlining is a less fuel intensive and generally more selective method of fishing than trawling. However, this fishery is responsible for bycatch of juvenile and young haddock. There is also possible bycatch of shark and other non-target species, including seabirds. Minimum permitted sizes for groundfish are 40 cm for cod, 37 cm for haddock, and 45 cm for saithe. In order to protect juveniles and young fish, fishing is temporarily prohibited (1-2 weeks or more) in areas where the number of small fish (cod less than 50 cm in length, saithe less than 55 cm and haddock less than 45 cm) exceeds 30% (in numbers) of catches. Due to the serious decline of the Faroe Bank cod, the Bank has been closed since 1 January 2009 for all gears except for a minor jigging fishery during summertime.

Alternatives

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
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Coley, Saithe
Haddock
Hake, European
Monkfish, Anglerfish
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)
Tilapia

References

ICES. 2019. Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) in Division 5.b (Faroe Plateau). In Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2019. ICES Advice 2019, had.27.5b, https://doi.org/10.17895/ices.advice.5694 [Accessed on 10.12.209].

ICES. 2019. North Western Working Group (NWWG). ICES Scientific Reports. 1:14. 826 pp. http://doi.org/10.17895/ices.pub.5298. [Accessed on 10.12.2019].

Faroese Seafood, 2019. Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem. Available at https://www.faroeseseafood.com/fishery-aquaculture/fisheries-in-the-marine-ecosystem/ [Accessed on 10.12.2019].