Seafish advises consumers to continue buying cod with a clear conscience

14 November 2013

Seafish has today challenged new advice from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). The MCS has advised consumers to avoid eating North Sea cod, blacklisting it by deciding that it should remain on the 'Fish to Avoid' list.

Seafish argues that consumers can buy North Sea cod with confidence, secure in the knowledge that it has been sourced from well managed fisheries using methods and practices that fall within the set parameters of the Cod Recovery Plan.

Tom Pickerell, Technical Director at 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 ICES* to be at an appropriate level. Such great strides in the recovery of North Sea cod have been taken by industry through collaborative work, pioneering development of selective gears, 'real time closures' to avoid catching cod where they exist in high concentrations and greatly reduced levels of discarding the catch.

"We would therefore encourage consumers to continue buying cod, which allows them to support the UK fishing industry's efforts to continue improving its sustainability. In essence, the MCS's advice for consumers to commercially 'turn their back' on this  species is misguided, particularly at a time when the outlook of its future as a fishery is encouraging and positive. 

"The MCS strives to be a leading source of guidance for consumers on the choices they make around seafood but should be questioned on the validity of its North Sea cod conclusions. Seafish, industry, environmental NGOS and consumers share the common desire to improve the sustainability of our fisheries but this is an unhelpful approach which marginalises achievements."

* International Council for the Exploration of the Sea