Merlangius merlangus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Rockall
Stock detail — 6b
Picture of Whiting

Sustainability rating five info

Sustainability overview

There is no stock assessment, specific data or specific management for this fishery. Landings in the area are thought to be negligible. In accordance with the precautionary approach, this fishery requires data collection to enable a more comprehensive or analytical stock assessment before it can be recommended as anything other than unsustainable. Avoid eating fish below the size at which it matures, 30 cm, and during its breeding season, January to July.


Whiting is a slender bodied, sandy, blue-green coloured fish with conspicuous white sides and belly, silvery when alive. A member of the gadoid family, the same as cod and haddock, it occurs throughout northeast Atlantic waters at a wide range of depths, from shallow inshore waters to depths of 200m. They mature at an age of 2-3 years and at a length of about 30 cm. The average landed length is usually around 30-40 cm, however whiting can grow up to 70 cm and 3 kg. Whiting breeds between January and July, but mostly in spring. The maximum reported age is 20 years.

Stock information

Criterion score: 1 info

Stock Area


Stock information

There is insufficient information available to evaluate stock status, i.e. the fishing mortality or exploitation and spawning stock biomass for the stock. The main cause of this is lack of data. Scientists state it is unlikely that there is a self-sustaining population of whiting at Rockall.
ICES cannot assess the stock and exploitation status relative to MSY and precautionary approach (PA) reference points because the reference points are undefined.
ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, wanted catches should be no more than 9 tonnes in each of the years 2019, 2020, and 2021. ICES cannot quantify the corresponding total catches.


Criterion score: 0.75 info

There is no management plan for whiting in this area. Since 2014, there has been effort to improve coverage by the Scottish industry/science observer sampling scheme in Subareas IV and VI. The sampling coverage now is more likely to reflect fishing patterns. Agreed total allowable catches for whiting in this area are far in excess of landings from Rockall and reflect the fishery in adjacent international waters.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Whiting taken in this area is taken as bycatch in fisheries for other species such as haddock and anglerfish. Landings in 2017 were 40 t. Catches and discards are unknown.


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
Monkfish, Anglerfish
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


ICES Advice 2018. ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Celtic Seas and Oceanic Northeast Atlantic ecoregions. whg.27.6b. Published 29 June 2018. Available at: http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2018/2018/whg.27.6b.pdf (Accessed November 2018).