Buying cod with a clear conscience

14 Nov 2013
North Sea Cod – stocks are on the rise. But to buy or not to buy, that is the question?

North Sea Cod – stocks are on the rise. But to buy or not to buy, that is the question?

Seafish is challenging new advice from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) which advises consumers to avoid eating North Sea cod because it should still be on the fish to avoid list.

The organisation says that contrary to North Sea cod being blacklisted consumers can buy the fish with confidence, secure in the knowledge that it has been sourced from well managed fisheries.

Tom Pickerell, technical director, Seafish, said: “The facts are that North Sea cod stocks have been steadily recovering for a number of years now. Fishing pressure on the stock has been decreasing since the late 1990s and is now considered by the ICES to be at an appropriate level.”

Seafish says that by buying cod consumers will support the UK fishing industry’s efforts to continue improving its sustainability.

Mr Pickerell added that the MCS’s advice for consumers is “misguided” and that it should be questioned on the validity of its North Sea cod conclusions.

Meanwhile, MCS said it has not changed its advice on North Sea cod in the latest version of its sustainable seafood guide – fish caught in that area should remain firmly off the menu, despite an encouraging rise in stocks.

MCS says that according to the latest data from ICES (The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea), North Sea cod stocks are only slightly above what are considered safe levels for the species, despite a decrease in the amount fished.

“It's still too soon for North Sea supplies of this iconic fish to be back on our menus," MCS fisheries officer, Bernadette Clarke, said. “Our advice remains to seek alternatives to North Sea cod. There are more sustainable cod fisheries that we currently rate as Fish to Eat.”

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