Avoid eating wild-caught UK salmon says Marine Conservation Society
But latest fish ratings also reveal better news for mackerel, herring and halibut stocks
The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) latest update of its sustainable seafood guide (www.fishonline.org), reveals continuing problems for wild caught Atlantic salmon.
In England and Wales the number of rivers assessed as meeting their conservation targets in 2013 was 30% compared to 53% the previous year.
In Scotland, lack of appropriate management measures to prevent overfishing of salmon from rivers where stocks are low, and the absence of internationally recognised conservation limits, have resulted in the species slipping onto the red rated, Fish to Avoid list.
MCS Fisheries Officer, Bernadette Clarke says recent calls to Scottish Ministers to limit salmon exploitation can only be a good thing: “Unlike most other members of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO), Scotland has not yet set conservation limits for its salmon rivers, and according to NASCO has almost no management regime in place to prevent an increase in coastal netting, neither has it adequate mechanisms to limit catches whether local salmon populations are strong or weak.”
MCS says the Scottish Government is planning to consult on the introduction of mandatory measures to protect spring salmon and the charity hopes to be part of the consultation process.
Other tea time favourites continue to have mixed fortunes on the MCS Fish to Eat and Avoid lists – cod from both the East and West Baltic all now get a cautionary rating, whilst Northeast Arctic haddock and mackerel from the EU and Norway are all now on the Fish to Eat list. North Sea cod remains as a fish to avoid.
Herring from the Western Baltic has also improved its status although should still be eaten only sparingly.
Some whiting, often suggested as a good alternative to cod and plaice, find themselves on the Fish to Avoid list. Small whiting are being taken as bycatch in nephrops (scampi) fisheries in the West of Scotland, North Sea and Eastern Channel.
“Whiting is being discarded in alarming quantities in these fisheries,” says Bernadette Clarke. “On the west coast of Scotland more than half of the annual catch weight comprises under-sized or low-value whiting which are then discarded. 90% of these discards come from scampi fisheries using small-mesh gears.”
MCS says there is widespread use of large square mesh panels to help reduce discarding and improve selectivity, but despite this the amount of fish discarded from this fishery remains high. The charity says further measures are required to reduce discarding and protect the whiting stock in the area which is assessed as being at a low level.
The updated Guide now includes some additional entries for lobster and crab and new entries for cuttlefish and squid. The best sources for lobsters are from fisheries where there are measures in force to protect berried or egg bearing females. Surprisingly, current legislation prohibits the landing of berried crab but not lobster. Lobster from the Southwest, Cornwall, and crab from the western channel and the Celtic sea are the most sustainable choices.
MCS says it’s vital that the public, chefs, retailers and fish buyers keep referring to the Fishonline website, the Pocket Good Fish Guide or the app version on iPhone or android, to ensure they have the most up-to-date sustainable seafood advice.