Fishing industry bodies in war of words over state of North Sea haddock stocks

The status of fishing for haddock is in flux after opposing comments from leading industry bodies.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) removed haddock from three North Sea and west of Scotland fisheries from the recommended “green” list of fish to eat, but the move appears to have divided opinion.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) has demanded a retraction of the statement, claiming it is misleading, and that haddock levels are, in fact, well-managed and at sustainable levels.

SFF Chief Executive Bertie Armstrong said: “The MCS has completely misunderstood the position as far as haddock stocks are concerned and should withdraw its utterly misleading comments.

“The organisation is trying to alter consumer behaviour on completely false premises and should desist at once.”

However, for consumers seeking alternatives to haddock, there are options.

Calum Richardson, of Bay Fish and Chips in Stonehaven, disagreed that haddock was endangered but offered substitutes.

He said: “Coley is MCS certified, and always features on menus.

“Whiting is also MCS certified.”

Ed Fletcher, of Granite City Fish on Poynernook Road, also disagrees with the comments from the MCS.

He said: “I’m very active in the farmers’ markets, and it is not just haddock that sells well for me; salmon, seabass, cod, rock turbot and sole are all good sellers.

“Although I do get customers who buy haddock only because they know how to cook it.”

Douglas Welsh, of D Nicoll on Rosemount Place, was surprised by the comments from the MCS, saying that haddock farming “works in cycles”.

He continued: “There is a lot of hake and cod around at the moment, and as whitefish, you can cook similar things with them as with haddock.

“Whiting is also good at this time of year.”