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Haddock in the North Sea, Skagerrak and West of Scotland, Demersal otter trawl


Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Content last updated
22nd Dec 2016

Haddock in Subarea IV and Divisions VIa and IIIa West (North Sea, West of Scotland and Skagerrak)

European Union



Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) is a widely distributed roundfish that inhabits temperate northern waters at depths ranging from 10 to 450 m. In the Northeast Atlantic, haddock are distributed from the Bay of Biscay to Spitzbergen, the Barents Sea to Novaya Zemlya and around Iceland to southern Greenland. This species has a maximum age of 20 years old and can reach up to 112 cm in length and 16.8 kg in weight. They feed mainly on small bottom-living organisms including crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms, worms and fishes; and they are preyed on by other fish, marine mammals and sea birds.

In the North Sea, West of Scotland, and Skagerrak, the haddock stock is exploited predominantly by fleets from the United Kingdom (Scotland), Norway and Denmark. Landings of haddock in these areas have ranged from 30 750 tonnes to 233 290 tonnes between 1972 and 2014. Over the last decade, landings have declined to lowest levels on record at around 30 000 to 50 000 tonnes. A contributory factor to the lower landings in recent years has been the maintenance of a low fishing mortality rate.

Stock Status

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The status of the haddock stock in the North Sea, West of Scotland and Skagerrak has been scored a very high risk. Fishing mortality is above the limit reference point (Flim) meaning the stock is being overfished. The stock biomass is below the precautionary reference point (Bpa) meaning there is increased risk of recruitment overfishing.

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The management of the haddock stock in North Sea, West of Scotland, and Skagerrak has been scored a low risk. This is because management decisions are informed by an annual stock assessment, recent catches of haddock closely follow the available TAC, and a comprehensive regulatory framework has been put in place. Management controls are derived from an analytical stock assessment, known to be precautionary and within the range specified by scientific advice. However a change in the stock assessment model would suggest that previous catches were set too high.

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The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored a moderate risk. This is because the fishery has potential to take and discard at risk stocks such as West of Scotland and North Sea cod.  A range of measures and/or incentives are in place to manage the fisheries, these measures, where adopted, will act to improve the selectivity of the fishery for some other species taken in the same fisheries depending on size and behaviour.

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The habitat risk of this fishery is scored as a high risk because otter trawls are considered to have the potential to cause significant adverse effects especially to deeper water habitats. This is because, although otter trawls are considered to have the potential to cause significant adverse impacts, , However, the risk of impact is to some extent mitigated by the fact that the ‘core’ otter trawl fisheries are spatially well defined and there has been a significant reduction in effort in this fishery over recent decades.


Spatial management measures have been implemented by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to reduce potential impacts to deep water vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) and habitats through the establishment of bottom fishery closures. However, not all deep water VME has been identified and protected through closures so it is likely that some sensitive seabed habitats remain at risk of bottom trawling impacts.

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Type Current Risk Status Outlook Reason


Very high Improving

Due to reconfiguration of the stock assessment model, the stock biomass for haddock is now nearing the limit reference point. However haddock is much more variable than other whitefish stocks, and as such would be expected to improve.


Low Uncertain

A full analytical assessment is carried out annually, however a change to the stock model this year means that the status of the stock is less favourable than the previous year's assessment. New reference points have been estimated and the EU-Norway management strategy has not been evaluated against these
reference points.


Moderate Improving

The bycatch impact of the demersal otter trawl fishery is likely to improve in the future as technical and spatial management measures are continuously being developed. The progressive implementation of the landings obligation to demersal fisheries from 2016 onwards will reduce discarding, but it is not yet known to what extent this will reduce total catches and fishing mortality.


High Improving

Otter trawls have the potential to affect sensitive seabed habitats, especially deeper water habitats, but spatial management measures are continuously being developed and will likely reduce the risk in the future. As planned networks of Marine Protected Areas become established, larger areas of sensitive habitat not previously intensively fished will become protected from any future trawling.

Nutritional Information

75 (kcal)
0.4 (g)
0.1 (g)
0 (g)
0.17 (g)

*per 100 g

Nutritional information from 100g raw product

Rich in Omega-3 | Protein | Niacin | Vitamin B12 | Selenium | Iodine

Good Source Of Vitamin B6 | Potassium | Phosphorus

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