North Sea cod sustainable after more than 10 years

North Sea cod stocks given the 'blue tick' a decade after near-collapse

North Sea cod stocks given the 'blue tick' a decade after near-collapse

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has awarded Scottish-caught cod sold in supermarkets and restaurants the "blue tick" eco-label, a mere decade after stocks were on the verge of collapse.

Stocks fished by members of the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group, are now certified by the MSC.

The MSC's Toby Middleton said: "Thanks to a collaborative, cross-industry effort, one of our most iconic fish has been brought back from the brink".

"We were one of the first to stop selling United Kingdom cod almost two decades ago over concerns about declining stocks", said Waitrose aquaculture and fisheries manager Jeremy Ryland-Langley.

When customers purchase North Sea cod in the supermarket from now on, they will see the organisation's eponymous blue label, which assures shoppers that the fish has been responsibly caught by a certified sustainable fishery.

That puts cod stocks at the highest since 1982, and lifts them off the recent low of 44,000 tonnes in 2006, when Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was personally hanging around outside fish and chip shops begging people to have hake or huss or pollock alongside their polystyrene boat load of chips. However, overfishing drove stocks to just 44,000 tonnes in 2006, which ultimately led to the implementation of a cod recovery plan by the European Union and Scottish government to help nurse the stock back to health. "By choosing fish with that label, you will be helping to protect stocks long into the future", he added.

"This is a massive development for the catching sector and is a testament to the power of collective action", said chairman of the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group, Mike Park.

Cod stocks in the North Sea stood at around 280,000 tons just 40 years ago and then went into steep decline due to overfishing when stock fell to under 40,000 tons. "The consumer can now eat home-caught cod with a clear conscience". However, she warned the amount of fish at breeding age was "well below late 1960s levels and recovery remains fragile". The decision will provide a major boost for the United Kingdom fishing industry and the Scottish fleet in particular. especially as Brexit approaches.

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