Haddock

Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Haddock

Image | Illustration by Sarah McCartney copywrite Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Description

A member of the cod family, Haddock is a popular fish cooked fresh or traditionally smoked.  The meat is firm and white, high in protein and low in fat.


Sustainability Overview

Fishermen report large stocks of Haddock in both the Celtic sea and western channel, but the small amount of quota held by Cornish boats quickly runs out and then restricts fishing massively in Cornish mixed fisheries where it is hard to control what species get caught in a trawl. Always avoid eating undersized fish (below 30 cm) and during their main breeding season in March and April.

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When is best to eat?

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Demersal Trawl

Demersal trawls are large nets that are pulled through the water with the bottom edge of the net touching the seabed. At each edge the net is pulled open by metal ‘trawl doors’. Sometimes referred to as Otter trawling.

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Beam Trawling

Beam trawls are nets with a steel beam that holds the net open. The belly of the net is made of chains and the upper surface of the net is mesh. Beam trawlers pull two nets along the seabed simultaneously.

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Gill Netting

Gill nets are lightweight nets made of nylon (monofilament) fishing line that are anchored to the seabed and are used to catch fish by entangling the gills.

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How we rate fish

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Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.

1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.

We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.

Sustainability Overview

Fishermen report large stocks of Haddock in both the Celtic sea and western channel, but the small amount of quota held by Cornish boats quickly runs out and then restricts fishing massively in Cornish mixed fisheries where it is hard to control what species get caught in a trawl. Always avoid eating undersized fish (below 30 cm) and during their main breeding season in March and April.

Haddock

Biology

Haddock prefer cool waters and during cold years their stocks do much better. 
They can live for up to 20 years and can grow to one meter in length. Populations of haddock tend to fluctuate depending on varying numbers of young fish entering the population. As a consequence, haddock populations may be composed of a relatively small range of year classes. 
  

Stock Info

The stock is currently above critical levels but fluctuates. Currently there are still a lot of young fish due to a good year for survival of juvenile fish in 2011 but the stock is now decreasing rapidly. (ICESs Advice 2014, STECF 2014). High levels of discarding of juvenile and unwanted haddock make it hard to estimate effect of fishing on stock sizes. Seafish ecological risk assessment score is 3/5 meaning that there is significant risk for this species. According to ICES fishing effort is currently above recommended levels.

Management

This fishery is managed through the EU Common fisheries policy which sets a quota for this species each year. Despite this stocks don’t seem to be re building sufficiently for quotas to be increased despite current good recruitment years. There is no management plan for this species. EU and CIFCA min landing size 30cm.

Capture Info

Beam trawls are dragged along the seabed disturbing the sand and sediment, scooping up target species. In The South west beam trawling results in capture of a mixture of species and it is difficult to accurately target specific species without others being caught. The fishing gear used has an impact on seabed habitats particularly when used for the first time in an area. There is no problem with by catch of cetaceans and seals in this gear. 
Mesh sizes are set large to reduce unwanted capture of juvenile fish but this method does have problems with by-catch in some areas and times of year in a very mixed fishery. If a fisherman has run out of haddock quota it become difficult to continue to fish as avoiding catching haddock is very difficult and the temptation is to discard the unwanted haddock. According to ICES  81% (49% by weight) of the haddock catch was discarded in the last decade. With the new Common fisheries Policy discard ban this will prove a big problem unless haddock quotas increase.  
 

References

Seafish Responsible Sourcing Guide Haddock 2013
Project Inshore
ERAEF SW, Seafish industry authority. 
MCS fish online
ICESS  Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries. STECF 2014 
Cheung, W.W.L., T.J. Pitcher and D. Pauly, 2005. A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate intrinsic extinction vulnerabilities of marine fishes to fishing. Biol. Conserv. 124:97-111
 

Recipes for Haddock

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Sustainable alternative recipies

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