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Fishy feud as charity claims haddock hardship is imminent

This news post is about 7 years old

Conservation charity "wrong" to put haddock on danger list

A conservation charity is calling for Scotland’s most popular fish to be taken off the menu claiming stocks are dwindling.

The Marine Conservation Society says haddock – easily the most eaten fish in the country – should be taken off the sustainable food list as its numbers have fallen below acceptable levels due to over fishing.

Haddock is a popular choice with seafood consumers and a favourite at the chip shop. It’s one of the UK’s “Big Five” fish species along with cod, tuna, salmon and prawns.

Campaigners are urging consumers to seek "green-certified" haddock, which are caught in the northeast Arctic and Iceland, when buying this species or buy other fish on the green list such as coley, mackerel and hake.

Two North Sea and west Scotland fisheries have been given an amber warning after scoring just four in the MSC's Good Fish Guide. The scale ranges from one to five, with one being most sustainable and five classed as "a fish to avoid".

"These fisheries are in a more exposed position than previously thought, and we want people to make the most responsible decision when choosing fish and go for green-rated fish," said Samuel Stone, head of fisheries and aquaculture at the charity.

But he added: "The haddock population hasn't suddenly crashed and there, is in fact, evidence that the stock will increase by a meaningful amount this year."

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, reacted angrily to the charity’s announcement, calling on the public to ignore the warning.

"We have gone to enormous lengths to maintain fishing stocks, including haddock. We completely reject this [downgrade], it's silly, it's unhelpful, and the public should ignore it.

"Fish customers rightly trust their supplier to be responsible. This downgrade is something of a nothing, they do it every year, it's absolutely meaningless and counterproductive if anyone pays any notice."