Cod and chips back on the menu after the fish is declared sustainable again

'We can all help protect this fish and ensure it’s never at risk again'

Sophie Christian
Wednesday 19 July 2017 18:24 BST
Battered: cod populations are still recovering from major depletions of the 1990s (Ge
Battered: cod populations are still recovering from major depletions of the 1990s (Ge (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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Fish and chip lovers will now be able to order North Sea cod with a “clear conscience” after the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) declared the North Sea fish is sustainable.

Considered under threat for more than a decade after stocks fell to 36,000 tonnes in 2006, the fish can now be sold in supermarkets with a blue tick eco-label on the packaging, indicating to consumers that the product is sustainable and fully traceable.

Approximately 70,000 tonnes of cod is consumed in the UK each year and after the fishery came close to collapsing, a “cod recover plan” was introduced, which aimed to reduce the number of day boats to help decrease the number of annual catches.

Approximately 60 per cent of the fishing was stopped, as large spawning areas used for fishing were closed off, the industry trialled new nets and CCTV cameras were installed on boats to monitor catches.

The MSC stated that cod now being labelled as sustainable is a “momentous achievement” for the business and was made possible by a union of fishing organisations, seafood brands, supermarkets and the industry body Seafish.

Toby Middleton from the MSC told the BBC: “If you can see the MSC label on your cod, you know that it has come from a sustainable source. By choosing fish with that label, you will be helping to protect stocks long into the future”.

He added: “Modified fishing gear, catch control, well-managed fishing practices – all these steps have come together to revive a species that was in severe decline. And now shoppers and diners can play their part, by only choosing MSC certified sustainable North Sea cod, we can all help protect this fish and ensure it’s never at risk again.”

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said the revival of North Sea cod demonstrated what was possible if various organisations pull together, but cod remains at a low level.

Lyndsey Dodds, the orgainsation's head of UK marine policy said: “The amount of North Sea cod at breeding age is well below late 1960s levels and recovery remains fragile.

"If we’re to get North Sea cod back on British plates for good, it’s vital that we don’t lose focus on sustainably managing fish stocks and protecting the marine wildlife as the UK develops its post-Brexit fisheries policy.”

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