BREAKING North Sea cod certified fully sustainable

Marco Green
July 19, 2017

That puts cod stocks at the highest since 1982, and lifts them off the recent low of 44,000 tonnes in 2006, when Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was personally hanging around outside fish and chip shops begging people to have hake or huss or pollock alongside their polystyrene boat load of chips.

The news means that - subject to strict traceability requirements - North Sea cod can now be sold in supermarkets and restaurants bearing the MSC "blue tick" label, indicating that it is sustainable and fully-traceable.

The improvements have ensured that the demand for cod - 70,000 tonnes of which is consumed a year - can now be satisfied without fear of stock annihilation. The supply squeeze meant the majority of cod served in the United Kingdom had to come from foreign waters such as the Norwegian and Barents seas.

Now Scottish and English cod boats, which are members of the Scottish Fisheries Sustainability Accreditation Group (SFSAG), have passed an independent sustainability assessment by the MSC.

The MSC's Toby Middleton said: "Thanks to a collaborative, cross-industry effort, one of our most iconic fish has been brought back from the brink".

A decade ago, realising that the industry was in danger of collapse, a "cod recovery plan" was implemented. However, overfishing drove stocks to just 44,000 tonnes in 2006, which ultimately led to the implementation of a cod recovery plan by the European Union and Scottish government to help nurse the stock back to health.

"By only choosing MSC certified sustainable North Sea cod, we can all help to protect this much-loved fish and ensure it's never at risk again".

Before reaching the decision, the body undertook an 18-month study of shoals on the east coast and eventually gave its nod of approval to the North Sea cod catch, which is made up of 288 boats in Scotland and England. However, she warned the amount of fish at breeding age was "well below late 1960s levels and recovery remains fragile". The decision will provide a major boost for the United Kingdom fishing industry and the Scottish fleet in particular. especially as Brexit approaches.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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