The MCS said it had downgraded three haddock fisheries on its Good Fish Guide after stock numbers fell.
Haddock is one of the UK’s ‘big five’ fish species alongside cod, tuna, salmon and prawns, and a popular choice in chip shops. It is often regarded by consumers as being a more sustainable alternative to cod.
Two North Sea haddock fisheries are now rated four, and the other has dropped from being a good choice (rated two) to one to eat only occasionally (rated three). The MCS scale ranges from one to five, with one being the most sustainable.
“Compared to 2015, the [haddock] stock numbers in 2016 were below the recommended level and at the point where action is now needed to increase the number of fish of breeding age,” says Bernadette Clarke, manager of the MCS Good Fish Guide.
Restaurants are under increasing pressure to put sustainable seafood on their menus. According to research by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) 60% of consumers believe restaurants should offer more sustainable options, but just 6% have seen the relevant eco-labels on menus when eating out.
Other updates to the Guide include improved ratings for nephrops (scampi) fisheries in the west of Scotland, Clyde and Jura catch areas, though the MCS says the fish is still ‘some way off’ being sustainable.
Yellowfin tuna has retained its five rating, with stock levels not expected to recover for 10 years, while bigeye tuna has been downgraded from a three to a four.
However, there have been improvements in North Atlantic albacore stocks, with pole and line fisheries upgraded to a two.
New additions to the Guide include American lobster (rated two), which can retail at under £10 in UK supermarkets at Christmas.
For more information on sustainable fish species see www.goodfishguide.org.