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Haddock in the Irish Sea, Midwater otter trawl


Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Content last updated
29th Nov 2017

Haddock in Division 7a

European Union


Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) is a demersal species of the gadoid family and is widely distributed in the shelf waters of the Northeast and Northwest Atlantic. The abundance of haddock in the Irish Sea has exhibited extended periods of high and low abundance. The most recent period of high abundance commenced in the 1990s and the stock continues to produce strong year classes every few years.

Haddock are caught in most areas of the Irish Sea but are mainly distributed in the western Irish Sea and south of the Isle of Man, preferring the coarser seabed sediments around the periphery of the muddy Nephrops grounds. Catches are taken in the Nephrops otter trawl fishery and in mixed demersal trawl fisheries using otter trawls, seines and, less frequently nowadays, in demersal mid-water trawls. Juvenile haddock are taken extensively in the otter trawl fisheries in these areas, leading to substantial discarding. Haddock are frequently caught with cod and whiting, which are both subject to very restrictive Total Allowable Catches (TACs)

Irish Sea haddock show rapid but variable growth, possibly related to abundance, and 70% of fish are mature by two years of age. The maximum observed age in UK Fisheries Science Partnership surveys from 2009 – 2013 was 10 years, based on catches during the spawning season using a commercial midwater trawl. Spawning occurs in spring, and the main spawning locations are in the western Irish Sea within the boundaries of the seasonal cod closure.

Stock Status

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Irish Sea haddock has been scored as a low risk. This is because the spawning stock biomass is above precautionary levels (above Bpa and MSYBtrigger) and the Fishing Mortality is below that which is required for Maximum Sustainable Yield (FMSY).

A recent benchmarking has improved the assessment of the stock which was previously data-limited.

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The management of Irish Sea haddock has been scored a low risk. This is because management decisions are informed by a full analytical stock assessment and agreed catches are within the range specified by scientific advice.

Haddock catches have been strongly controlled by changes to fleet activities associated with the long term cod management plan which appears to have benefited both stocks. An important issue has been the level of discarding in some fisheries on this stock. However discard rates appear to be declining with the implementation of technical measures.

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The bycatch in the mid-water trawl Irish Sea haddock fishery is assessed as very low risk. This is because the bycatch is less than 10% of the total catch, of which more than 90% of the non-targeted species are processed and utilized. Observer rates are high and management measures are in place to limit the impact of the fishery on other species such as cod.

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The habitat impact of the mid-water trawl Irish Sea haddock fishery has been scored a low risk. This is because mid-water trawls only occasionally interact with seafloor habitats, and there is therefore no requirement for a spatial management plan to restrict the footprint of this gear.

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Type Current Risk Status Outlook Reason


Low Improving

A very strong year class has recently been produced, and is causing a growth in biomass which may not be permanent. The spawning stock biomass has fluctuated widely in the past in response to recruitment but the longer term trend has been stable since the late 1990s.


Low Stable

The CFP is going through reform and there is some uncertainty on how this will impact fisheries management in the Irish Sea. There is a new long term management plan in preparation by the EU for the Irish and North Seas; management is likely to remain stable.


Low Uncertain

The fishery is targeted on aggregations of adult haddock. The improving stock status of both cod and haddock and the implementation of the Landing Obligation are likely to influence future trends


Very Low Improving

Technical and spatial management measures are being developed that will likely further reduce these risks.

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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