Fish of the Day

Commentaires

Transcription

Fish of the Day
Fish of the Day
Can consumers help
save UK fisheries?
A WWF Report
Dr Susan Gubbay and Allen Searle
July 2001
All rights reserved. All material appearing in
this publication is subject to copyright and may
be reproduced with permission. Any
reproduction in full or in part of this publication
must credit WWF-UK as the copyright holder.
The views of the author expressed in this
publication do not necessarily reflect those
of WWF.
The authors have used all reasonable
endeavours to ensure that the content of this
report, the data compiled, and the methods of
calculation and research are consistent with
normally accepted standards and practices.
However, no warranty is given to that effect nor
any liability accepted by the authors for any loss
or damage arising from the use of this report by
WWF-UK or by any other party.
Acknowledgements
The authors should like to thank the Sea Fish
Industry Authority for the use of its diagrams
and data in the report. Thanks also Nathan de
Rozarieux, Andy Wheeler, David Muirhead,
Trevor Bartlett and Dr. Richard Briggs for their
advice. Special thanks to Louise Heaps, WWFUK, for her contributions to the report.
WWF is extremely grateful to Ross Burden for
providing some unique recipes for the report
and for his support of the Oceans Recovery
Campaign (ORCA).
© WWF-UK, 2000
Panda symbol © WWF 1986
® WWF Registered Trademark
Registered Charity No 1081247
For further information, contact:
Godalming, Surrey GU7 1XR
Telephone 01483 426444
Fax 01483 426409
Website www.wwf-uk.org
WWF Cymru
Baltic House
Mount Stuart Square
Cardiff
CF10 5FH
Telephone 029 2045 4970
Fax 029 2045 1306
WWF Scotland
8 The Square
Aberfeldy
Perthshire
PH15 2DD
Telephone 01887 820449
Fax 01887 829453
WWF Northern Ireland
8 The Square
Aberfeldy
Perthshire
PH15 2DD
Telephone 01887 820449
Fax 01887 829453
The Living Seas Programme
WWF-UK
Panda House, Weyside Park
Contents
Executive Summary
What can you do
5
6
1
Introduction
9
2
Background
10
3 Changing patterns of consumption
3.1
Introduction
12
3.2
On the menu 13
3.3
Filling the gap – the need to import fish 19
12
4 Case studies
4.1
Introduction
22
4.2
The herring fishery
22
Herring with beetroot gnocchi 26
4.3
The Mackerel handline fishery 27
Mackerel and chickpea stew
30
4.4
The Nephrops fishery 31
Sauté of langoustines, chorizo and beans34
4.5
The Manx scallop fishery
35
Scallops on poori with aubergine puree 38
4.6
Saithe 39
Saithe in Parma ham with broad beans 41
4.7
Other less well-known species 42
22
5
46
Aquaculture
6 General guidance
6.1
Keeping informed
50
6.2
Increase the variety of species that you eat
51
6.3
Make sure you adhere to the size regulations
52
6.4
Choose fish caught by more sustainable fishing gear
6.5
Support your local industry
53
6.6
Some species to avoid in the short term 53
6.7
Choose farmed produce carefully
54
50
53
References
55
Annex 1: ICES Fishing Areas around the UK
Annex 2: Major commercial species caught around the UK
Benthic and Demersal Species 58
Pelagic Species
59
Industrial Species
59
57
58
Executive Summary
1
The current crisis facing our cod stocks, and increasing reports of the impacts of fishing
on the wider marine environment, have heightened consumer concerns and raised issues
about the fish we eat. But the demise in North Sea and Irish Sea cod stocks goes far
beyond facing a future without our favourite fish supper. Not only is fish an important
source of protein, but fishing also generates an important income for many coastal
communities, and is a source of jobs for related processing and service industries. UK
fisheries employ 17,800 fishermen and provide 100,000 associated jobs on land.
Landings by the UK fleet were valued at £414 million in 2000. Nevertheless, our fleet is
now unable to catch the allocated quota of cod and the total UK landings for all species
are in decline. To satisfy demand, it is necessary to import cod from Iceland and
Norway – where stocks are presently considered to be in better condition – and other
species of fish from countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Irish Republic, Russia
and the Faroe Islands.
2
The social and economic viability of fisheries is inextricably linked to the health of the
ecosystem. Improved technology (bigger, faster and more efficient fishing vessels) and
the current system of management imposed by the European Commission has led to the
crisis we see today around our coasts. Some types fishing gear have more of an
environmental impact than others, and are associated with the accidental capture of noncommercial species and gear-related damage to marine habitats and communities. In
addition, removing large quantities of species may reverberate throughout the food
chain, affecting populations of predators, prey and competitors. In particular, those fish
species which have a low rate of reproduction and which take several years to reach
maturity are more vulnerable to exploitation. Deep-water fish, such as the orange
roughy, fall into this category. The largely unregulated nature of this fishery led to an
estimated 76 per cent decline in stocks west of Ireland and in south-west England
between 1991 and 1998, and there is serious concern over the viability of such fisheries.
3
The recent WWF report, Choose or Lose, showed that fishermen and those concerned
about the environment share a common long-term vision of healthy seas and abundant
fish stocks. Some UK fishermen are already taking their own initiatives to use more
selective fishing gear and to adopt more stringent management measures. Minimum
landing sizes for some species were removed and others were reduced by the European
Commission at the beginning of 2000. As a result, the National Federation of
Fishermen’s Organisations recommended that its members adhere to stricter minimum
landing sizes than those imposed by the European Commission. While it is vital to
approach the management of our fisheries and the wider marine environment in a
responsible and sustainable way, moving towards sustainable fisheries need not be the
sole responsibility of policy makers. It is important to remember that consumers also
have the power to effect change. Not eating fish would, however, only encourage a
spiral of decline. Instead, we should aim at supporting our fishing communities and the
wider marine environment by continuing to eat fish and by making informed decisions
about the fish we choose to consume. By maintaining a market demand for responsiblycaught fisheries, we are supporting the use of more sustainable fishing practices.
Fish of the Day 5
4
Cod, haddock and plaice dominate the sales of fish to UK households. Nevertheless,
there is a sufficient number of different species caught around the UK to vary our dish
every week of the year. Given the vast number of fisheries and the variety of fishing
gear used around the UK coasts, making informed decisions about our choice of fish
can be extremely difficult. To complicate the issue further, different types of gear may
be used to catch the same stock, each with a different type and level of impact. One gear
type may be considered to be sustainable in one area, but not in another. This may be
dependent on the habitat type or the other species that occupy a particular area. For
example, static gear such as bottom-set gillnets may have a limited impact on seabed
communities but may be associated with by-catch of marine mammals, such as the
harbour porpoise.
5
Given the complexities of the fisheries and fishing methods used in the UK, it is hardly
surprising that people are looking for clear, easily available information to help them
make decisions about what fish to eat. Eco-labelling schemes, such as the one being
developed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), will help. The MSC provides a
set of standards for sustainable and well managed fisheries which are assessed by an
independent certifier. If they meet the requirements they are provided with a logo.
Several small-scale inshore fisheries in the UK are in the process of being certified by
the MSC. The Thames herring fishery was the first fishery to be certified in March
2000. These schemes are, however, relatively new and only a few fish have been
labelled to date. It is hoped that certified products become more widely available to help
the consumer to make the right choices.
6
In the meantime, WWF has assessed a number of fisheries which reflect the range of
fishing gear types and styles of management used in the UK. A series of recurring
themes are seen throughout the case studies and 10 broad conclusions and
recommendations can be made. These are summarised below.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
•
A great deal of information is available about the fish we eat as well as the environmental,
social, economic and health issues surrounding them. Several website addresses are given in
the final section of this report. Keeping informed can be time consuming, but it is
worthwhile.
•
Many factors affect the quantity and species that are available to UK consumers. The status
of the stocks, fluctuations in the price, taste, fashion, quality, our age and where we live all
affect our choice of species. Herring once constituted an important part of our diet, but the
collapse in the stock led to an outright ban in the 1970s. Following the implementation of a
strict management system, herring stocks are recovering. Nevertheless, we have never
rediscovered our taste for this fish and market sales remain low. To prevent this tasty fish
being converted into nothing more than feed for both aquaculture farms and livestock, try to
include it on your shopping list.
6
Fish of the Day
•
The British diet is dominated by only a few species of fish, but there are sufficient numbers
of species caught around the UK to choose a different fish dish each week of the year.
Consider buying a variety of different species to take the pressure off the select few and to
help the industry diversify away from stocks that need to recover. Broadening your tastes
will also reduce the enormous wastage associated with discarding less profitable species,
such as the dab, which are also caught in fishing gear. You could also be more adventurous
with species such as pollack and saithe, both of which are similar in taste to cod, as well as
some of the more unusual species of shellfish. It is still important to include cod on your
shopping list from time to time, so that the market is not lost when the fishery eventually
recovers.
•
The European Commission sets minimum landing sizes for many fish to ensure that they are
not caught before they have reached full maturity. To make sure you are supporting the legal
trade, familiarise yourself with the minimum landing size for your favourite fish. Many of
these are given in Annex 2. You may even want to adopt more stringent standards.
Supermarkets and your local fishmonger could make this easier by supplying information
in-store. Avoid following the fashion for buying smaller sizes to “fit on the plate”.
In particular, avoid anything labelled “baby fish”.
•
Buy locally caught fish. This not only supports industries on your doorstep, but may also
give you a fresher product.
•
Try to support local management schemes and initiatives. In some parts of the UK, female
lobsters carrying eggs are marked by fishermen with a small triangular notch. This is known
as “v-notching”. The mark disappears during the following moult. Females that have been
v-notched should be returned to sea to ensure that they are left to spawn. Don’t buy lobsters
that have been marked in this way and make sure that you complain if you are served them
when eating out.
•
A vast array of fishing methods are employed by UK fishermen to catch the large number of
commercially exploited species around our coastline. Some of this fishing gear is considered
to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable than others. As a general rule of thumb,
traditional gear such as handlining (line caught), creeling, setting traps, and “diver caught”
are better options: they tend to be less intensive, they have a lesser impact on marine
habitats, and they tend to catch fewer juveniles and non-commercial species. They may also
provide fish of better quality. Try and find out how your fish was caught. Again, ask your
retailer to supply this information at the counter.
•
WWF recommends that you avoid some of the more vulnerable species, at least until more
stringent management measures are put in place. These include the common skate and deep
sea species of fish such as the orange roughy.
•
On a more global scale, the total worldwide production of fish from capture fisheries and
aquaculture has been increasing steadily since the 1950s, and in 1998 amounted to an
estimated 117 million tonnes, worth around US$76 billion. This trend is attributed to the
explosive increase in aquaculture over the last 30 years. Aquaculture is an important source
of some species of fish sold in the UK, but the environmental and health problems
associated with farmed fish are significant. The use of potentially toxic pesticides and
Fish of the Day 7
antifoulants, as well as antibiotics (therapeutants), has had severe impacts on the wider
marine environment in some areas. Escapes from some finfish farms has led to the spread of
disease and the genetic contamination of wild stocks. In addition, huge amounts of fish meal
from wild sources are required in the culture of carnivorous fin fish such as salmon and
trout. Try to opt for fish which have been farmed in open sea conditions. In addition, try fish
which do not rely on large supplies of wild-caught fish as feed. Farmed shellfish are
generally considered to have less environmental impact as they do not require additional
feed. Ask your retailer to indicate whether a fish is from a wild or farmed source, and to
provide any additional information so you can make an informed decision.
•
Finally, although your retailer may not know the answers, keep asking questions. Consumer
concerns eventually translate into supplier action. Ask for more information in-store.
WWF’s Oceans Recovery Campaign (ORCA) is also calling for::
•
integrated marine legislation in the form of an Oceans Act;
•
a stronger network of Marine Protected Areas around the UK; and
•
a network of regeneration areas to enhance and restore fish stocks, including pilot FishingFree Zones.
8
Fish of the Day
1
Introduction
The current crisis facing our cod stocks has been frequently in the news in recent months, but
the demise goes far beyond facing a future without our favourite fish supper. Not only is fish an
important source of protein, but fishing also generates a significant level of income for many
coastal communities, and is an important source of jobs for related processing and service
industries. It has become increasingly well documented, however, that fishing activities have
significant effects on the wider marine environment, as a result of accidental capture of nontarget species and gear-related damage to marine habitats and communities. Removing large
quantities of commercial species may also reverberate throughout the food chain, affecting
populations of predators, prey and competing species. Improved technology (bigger, faster and
more efficient fishing vessels) and the current system of management imposed by the European
Commission has led to the crisis we see today in the seas around the UK.
The recent WWF report, Choose or Lose (Macgarvin & Jones, 2000), highlights the fact that
fishermen and those concerned about the environment share a common long-term vision of
healthy seas and abundant fish stocks. In short, the social and economic viability of fishing is
inextricably linked to the health of the ecosystem. It is therefore vital to approach the
management of our fisheries and the wider marine environment in a responsible and sustainable
way. Moving towards sustainable fisheries need not be the sole responsibility of policy makers.
It is important to remember that we as consumers also have the power to effect change.
To stop eating fish would only encourage a spiral of decline. Instead, we should continue to
enjoy fish as a tasty and healthy part of our diet by safeguarding fish stocks and the wider
marine environment and by supporting and securing a viable fishing industry. As consumers, we
can do this by continuing to make the right choices about what we eat. Fisheries are, however,
extremely complex. There are a sufficient number of different species caught around the UK
to vary our dish every week of the year. Each of these species may be exploited by a variety of
different fishing gear, all with different types and levels of impact. For example, some fishing
gear is associated with a high capture of non-commercial species (by-catch). And there are
further complications. What might be considered to be good practice in one region may have
significant impacts on the fish stocks of non-commercial species and habitats in another.
It is hardly surprising that the British public are looking for clear, easily available information to
help them make decisions about what to eat. It is hoped that in the future more and more of the
industry, fishing in a sustainable way, will opt for eco-labelling schemes, which tell the
consumer that products have been derived from a sustainable source. The Marine Stewardship
Council (MSC) offers one such scheme, where fisheries are assessed by an independent certifier
against the MSC standard for “sustainable and well managed” fisheries. Several small-scale
inshore fisheries in the UK are being certified by the MSC. The Thames herring fishery was the
first UK fishery to be certified in March 2000. Until more products become certified, and given
the complexity of options available, this report aims to provide the consumer with some general
guidance to support sustainable fisheries. A background to the present pattern of consumption is
provided, and the issues associated with the different types of fishery are highlighted through
several case studies.
Fish of the Day 9
2
Background
Fish and fishing have been important throughout human history. Mussel and limpet shells, along
with bones of cod and saithe, have been found around Stone Age settlements. In Europe some of
the earliest records of open sea fisheries are derived from 10th century Viking and Norman
artefacts.
Fish and fishing are also part of our social and cultural heritage. Distinct fishing communities
have made important contributions to the growth and prosperity of many of our villages, towns
and cities. For example, Bristol was a great commercial centre for the import and export of
North Atlantic cod in the 17th century, and many North Sea towns were the hub of the herring
fishery in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Fisheries scientist Frank Buckland, writing in 1891,
describes the scene:
“Bordering the great North Sea alone, there are several important fishing
ports: such as Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Hull, Grimsby and Scarborough.
Over 2,000 trawling smacks and an army of brave fishermen are incessantly,
day and night, all the year round, fishing with their heavy trawl nets the
vast sand plateaus of the 140,000 square miles of the great North Sea.”
Today, government statistics (MAFF 1999a & b) reveal that the entire UK fleet comprises
around 7,600 vessels and provides jobs for more than 17,800 fishermen. Support jobs on land in
the processing and supply industries are thought to provide another 100,000 jobs. Ports such as
Peterhead, Lerwick, Aberdeen and Fraserburgh are strongholds of the fishing industry in
Scotland along with Hull, Plymouth, Newlyn and Brixham in England. The value and size of
landings at these ports make them stand out, but they are only part of the picture. Fish are also
landed at many small ports and harbours around the country and contribute to the local
economy. In 1998, landings were reported from 179 locations, many of which concentrated on a
particular fishery: for example mussels in Cemaes Bay, edible crabs in Eyemouth, bass in
Worthing and scallops in Buckie.
In the UK, concerns about fish stocks and some methods of fishing were raised as long ago as
the 13th century, and Acts of Parliament conserving fish and banning the use of trawls were
introduced in 1350 and 1371. The Rolls of Parliament talk of:
“a new craftily contrived kind of instrument” to which is attached “a net of
so small a mesh that no kind of fish, however small, that enters it can pass out
but is forced to remain within it and be taken…And besides this (the instrument)
presses so hard on the ground when fishing that it destroys the living slime and
the plants growing on the bottom of the water, and also the spat of oysters, mussels
and of other fish, by which the large fish are accustomed to live and be nourished”.
Intensive exploitation was probably first most apparent in the southern North Sea in the early
19th century. In those days, trawlers operated under sail and needed a strong wind to overcome
the drag of the net. Since then, the advances brought by steam and then diesel power,
refrigeration (making the supply of ice easier), steel warps, synthetic net fibres, echo-location
10
Fish of the Day
and satellite navigation not only opened up new fishing grounds but also made it possible to
find and catch more fish and bring them ashore in good condition.
New fishing methods also helped to increase the size of the catch of open sea fisheries, with a
shift from driftnets to mid-water trawls1 and purse seines (see Box 1). All of these fishing
methods continue to be used alongside traditional methods, such as creels (see section 4.4.2) to
catch crabs and lobsters. Landings by the UK fleet in 2000 were 457,164 tonnes with a value of
£413.929 million (pers. comm. SFIA), while sales of fish and fish products from the primary and
mixed sectors of the UK fish processing industry in 1999 were estimated to be around £1.48
billion (SFIA, 1999b).
Alongside the changes taking place at sea there have been increasing efforts to manage fisheries
sustainably. A raft of technical conservation measures, such as minimum mesh and landing
sizes, as well as Total Allowable Catches2 (TACs) and quotas, have been introduced under
Regulation 3760/92 of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Nevertheless, it is widely
recognised that the current system of management underpinning the CFP has not adequately
protected target stocks, and has failed to protect the wider marine environment. In order to
maintain a viable fishing industry, the European Commission must put sustainability of our fish
stocks and the health of the marine ecosystem at the heart of the CFP. For example, measures
need to be taken to ensure that those species and habitats which are considered to be rare,
endangered, fragile and vulnerable (as are listed under EU legislation pertaining to nature
conservation, such as the EC Habitats3 and Birds4 Directives), are protected against the impacts
of fishing activities, such as damage from gears being towed along fragile seabed habitats.
There are some signs that linkages between EU legislation relating to nature conservation and
fisheries management are improving. In addition, the CFP is currently under review and the
recent Green Paper on the reform of the CFP highlights the importance of integrating
environmental objectives into fisheries policy. There are also more localised regulations and
agreements that operate within our territorial waters. Several institutes are now investigating
how to make fishing gear more selective and some progress has been made to minimise the bycatch of dolphins and porpoises in fishing nets. Acoustic scaring devices called pingers have
been trialed with some success in Cornwall on bottom-set net hake fisheries.
Today’s commercial fishing industry is very different from that of 100, 20 and even 10 years
ago, as are our choices about the type and quantity of fish that we eat. The changing patterns of
consumption are described in this document, and several case studies are used to show how
consumers can play a part in ensuring a healthy marine ecosystem and support a sustainable and
viable fishing industry in the long term.
1
Mid-water trawls target fish that occupy the middle and upper layers of the water column. These tend to be pelagic
species.
2
Setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) involves the fixing of maximum quantities of fish that can be caught from a
specific stock over a given period of time. They are fixed annually. The share of the TAC (the quota) is allocated to the
various member states according to a number of factors including historical fishing rights. TACs and quotas for the main
commercial species fished by the UK fleet are given in Appendix 1. The International Council for the Exploration of the
Sea (ICES) provides opinions on the safe levels of fishing effort to the Commission.
3
Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora
4
Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the Conservation of Wild Birds
Fish of the Day 11
3
Changing patterns of consumption
3.1
INTRODUCTION
Fishing is a global business. In 1998, the total worldwide production of fish from capture
fisheries and aquaculture amounted to an estimated 117 million tonnes, worth around US$76
billion. These figures have been rising steadily since the 1950s. A closer look at the data reveal
changes in the species being targeted as well as the quantity of fish available. The most obvious
pattern is the levelling off of global fish catches, while production from aquaculture continues to
grow. It is this latter sector that has been responsible for the continuing upward trend of the last
decade (Figure 1, from FAO).
FIGURE 1
World capture fisheries and aquaculture production
Several important factors determine the fish we choose to eat, particularly fluctuations in the
quantity and species of fish available. This is exemplified by the change in consumption of
herring in the UK. Once a staple part of the British diet in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the
herring was the only animal protein not rationed during the Second World War. Overexploitation led to a collapse in the stocks and the subsequent closure of the fishery in 1977. By
the time it reopened six years later, the British market was largely lost. It is commonly believed
that herring had become associated with wartime austerity and that a generation of British
children, brought up on frozen cod and fish fingers, has never acquired the taste for this fish.
Quantity and availability are not the only factors responsible for changing patterns of fish
consumption. Price, taste, fashion, quality, our age and where we live play a part, as well as
perceptions about fish being a healthy food, how easy it is to prepare, and environmental issues.
With so many influences it is hardly surprising that fish eating habits change. In this section, we
describe some of the changes of recent years, and we pay particular attention to the species,
products, quantity and the source of the fish that reaches our plates.
12
Fish of the Day
3.2
ON THE MENU
3.2.1
How much fish do we eat ?
Fish is an important source of protein in our diet. The FAO reports that global consumption of
fish has risen from 79.8 million tonnes in 1994 to an estimated 92.6 million tonnes in 1999.
However, in the UK we eat less fish now than we did in the late 1940s. The greatest change
concerns fresh fish, consumption of which is less than half it was in 1960: from 76 grams per
person per week in 1960 to 33 grams in 1998 (Figure 2).
(from MAFF, 2000)
FIGURE 2
Consumption of fish in Great Britain
300
250
200
Fresh Fish
All fish
150
100
50
0
1948
1960
1970
1980
1985
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
Year
* No data on
proportion of
fresh fish
In addition, the amount of fish we eat is determined by factors such as our age and sex.
It appears that older people buy the most fish and this trend is strengthening (Figure 3).
FIGURE 3
Consumption of fish by different age groups
(from Morgan, 1994)
7%
30%
29%
16-25
26-44
45-54
65+
34%
Fish of the Day 13
3.2.2
The increasing trend for farmed fish products
On a global level, one of the most significant changes has been the increasing supply of fish
from aquaculture. Figures collected by the FAO show a growth in this freshwater and marine
sector of around 10 per cent a year since 1990, and it is predicted that aquaculture will dominate
fish supplies by 2030, when less than half the fish consumed is likely to be caught in the wild.
The growing importance of aquaculture in world fisheries is reflected in the pattern of fish
consumption in the UK. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) dominates the marine aquaculture
industry in the UK, with production increasing every year since the industry was established in
the 1970s. Production has risen from just over 3,900 tonnes in 1984 to 70,322 tonnes in 1995
and 126,686 in 1999. Household purchases have mirrored this growth, with sales of around
5,000 tonnes in 1992 rising to nearly 16,000 tonnes in 1999. There is also increasing interest in
the possibility of farming other fish species such as cod, turbot and halibut.
The shellfish farming industry in the UK has also expanded. The production of oysters and
mussels dominates this sector and has increased the availability of clams, cockles, and king and
queen scallops. When coupled with the significant growth of aquaculture in other parts of the
world, such as the shrimp farming industries of Asia, the choice and availability of shellfish in
the UK has widened considerably.
The improved availability of these products, together with lower prices and better marketing,
has undoubtedly helped popularise them, but growing publicity about the environmental effects
of aquaculture, along with human health concerns about the consumption of farmed salmon,
may affect this trend. These issues are discussed in more detail in section 5.
3.2.3
British tastes
The changes brought about by aquaculture will no doubt continue to influence fish
consumption. But for now, wild-caught fish still dominate the UK industry, with demersal5
species such as cod, haddock and plaice being the most popular (Tables 1 & 2). Demersal fish
also make up the largest proportion of landings by UK vessels. They are also imported to satisfy
the demand (Figure 9).
TABLE 1
Market breakdown of UK fish sales in 1993 and the percentage accounted for
by sales of the top three species
Demersal
Shellfish
Freshwater
Pelagic6
79.0%
10.4%
5.6%
5.0%
Year
1991
1992
1993
Cod/Haddock/plaice
69%
70%
71%
Other demersal
31%
30%
29%
(from Morgan, 1994; Source AGB Super panel/Market power)
5
Demersal fish are those normally found close to the seabed, such as cod, haddock and ling.
6
Pelagic fish are those normally found in the upper part of the water column, such as mackerel and herring. They tend
to be highly mobile.
14
Fish of the Day
TABLE 2
UK landings of commercial fish according to country
Demersal
Pelagic
Quantity
(‘000
tonnes)
Value
England and
Wales
106.5
Scotland
Shellfish
Quantity
(‘000
tonnes)
Value
142.8
42.0
332.6
216.5
Northern Ireland
16.6
10.8
Islands
1.0
2.1
Total UK
456.7
372.2
(£
million)
Quantity
(‘000
tonnes)
Value
13.2
69.7
75.5
273.3
96.8
53.5
86.2
19.1
3.8
7.6
10.9
1.9
2.8
132.7
175.4
334.4
(£
million)
113.8
(£
million)
Source : MAFF (1999a)
If the British public were asked to pick a single fish to represent the UK fishing industry, it is
likely they would choose cod. Cod was an obvious target for a commercial fishery because of its
size, abundance and presence on nearly all the fishing grounds of the North Atlantic. Salted,
dried or fresh and originally caught by hand lines, the trade and consumption of cod fishing has
been important to the British market for more than 100 years. It is the subject of folklore and
tradition, as well as being a part of the modern fishing industry. It even became a form of
currency within the European Union (EU), where the relative value of some other species is
often expressed in “tonnes, cod equivalent”. For example, haddock and plaice have the same
value as cod and are therefore “one cod equivalent”, whereas saithe and whiting are respectively
valued at 0.77 and 0.86 cod equivalents.
Given this background, it is hardly surprising that the state of cod stocks in the Irish Sea and
North Sea is an economic and socially significant blow to the UK fishing industry. The Total
Allowable Catch in the North Sea alone for all 15 EU member states has been reduced from
levels of over 150,000 tonnes in the late 1980s to 48,600 tonnes in 2001. The UK has a 39 per
cent share of this. In addition, fishermen have been unable to catch enough fish to use up the
whole quota. Catches of North Sea cod in the Norwegian and EU sectors were only 80 per cent
of the 1998 quota, 59 per cent of the 1999 quota and 71 per cent of the 2000 quota.
Temporary closures have since been put in place to protect spawning adults as part of the cod
recovery plans for the Irish Sea in 2000 and the North Sea in 2001. The reality is that much
more needs to be achieved. But the industry is simply unable to absorb financially the scale of
the cuts in the amount of fishing required. The recent WWF ORCA report, Choose or Lose
(MacGarvin & Jones, 2000), highlighted the importance of investing in the recovery
programmes to ensure the long-term sustainability of the stocks and the fishing industry.
Cod still dominates the sales of fish to households in Britain (Figure 3). Around 80 per cent of
our cod is supplied by imports from countries such as Iceland and Norway (see section 3.3). It is
hoped that current management measures will allow recovery of cod in EU waters and that, in
the meantime, importers retain the interest in buying this fish so there is no similar loss in the
market as experienced by the North Sea herring following its collapse in the early 1970s.
Fish of the Day 15
FIGURE 4
Household Retail Purchases of Main Species of Fish & Shellfish in Great Britain 1994-2000
(from SFIA, 2000)
The most popular species bought by UK households are cod, haddock, plaice, salmon and
prawns. These species represent 84 per cent (110,986 tonnes) of the total household purchases
in 1999 (SFIA, 1999a). They also dominate sales to the catering industry, and constituted 69 per
cent (107,000 tonnes) of the total UK sales in 1999. Cod alone represents 39 per cent (51,065
tonnes) of household purchases and 31 per cent of total sales to catering outlets in the UK
(SFIA, 1999b). Fish and chip shops buy the largest amount but canteens, hotels, pubs,
restaurants, education and health care services are also important sectors which buy fish. Of the
more popular species, market mapping shows how our age and sex affects the choice of fish we
eat (see Figure 5).
FIGURE 5
Typical consumers of a selection of wet fish (from Morgan, 1994)
16
Fish of the Day
Regional differences are also apparent, and may be a feature of the local landings (see Table 2).
For example, Scotland’s consumption of haddock is higher than the national average, as are
whiting in the south-west and smoked cod in the north-east of England (Figure 6).
FIGURE 6
Examples of regional preferences in fresh fish (from Morgan, 1994)
3.2.4
The quest for new species
What the figures do not show is an interest in what might be considered to be more “exotic”
species. Declining catches in traditional species have in part led to the exploration and
development of markets for new species. Several deep-water fish fall into this category and
have been fished since the early 1970s from parts of the North-east Atlantic such as the Rockall
Trough, and off the continental slope of Iceland. Species such as blue ling, black scabbard fish,
deepwater sharks and orange roughy are fished using trawls, longlines and gillnets to depths of
1,700m. Most of these fish are exported to France and Spain. Orange roughy is one of the few
deep-water fish sold for human consumption in the UK.
Available information suggests that many of these deep-water species are long-lived, slowgrowing and have low reproductive rates. They take many years to reach maturity (Table 3).
The orange roughy does not mature for 25 to 30 years and may live up to 100 years. It produces
relatively few eggs compared with other fish species and is believed not to reproduce every
year. The largely unregulated nature of these fisheries has led to serious concerns. The orange
roughy fishery has been described as a mining operation and there is evidence to suggest that
stocks to the west of Ireland and south-west England declined by 76 per cent between 1991 and
1998. Yet very little is known about this species.
Fish of the Day 17
TABLE 3
Biological characteristics of deep-water and traditionally exploited species (from Donnelly, 1999)
Deep-water fish
Species
Orange
Roundnose
roughy
grenadier
Traditionally exploited species
Argentine
Blue
Cod
Plaice
Haddock
Saithe
whiting
Longevity (years)
100-plus
72
40
Age at sexual maturity
34-37
8-16
10-12
168,000
12-55,000
43
11
13-22
22
10
1-7
3-10
2-5
3
(years)
Fecundity (eggs/female)
2.5-5.9
300,000
million
3.2.5
Changing tastes – the shift to fish products
Sales of cod and haddock have dominated the UK market for many years but there have been
notable changes in our preferences in terms of the final product. Fresh fish makes up the largest
proportion of sales in the UK (45.3 per cent in 1998, compared with frozen fish at 28.8 per cent,
canned fish 13.9 per cent, and cured fish 12 per cent). However, convenience foods, ready
meals, coated fish products and other value-added items are a fast-growing industry. The figures
available show that sales of fish in selected frozen fish products in the UK have increased from
around £491,305 (114,971 tonnes) in 1992 to £538,125 (115,830 tonnes) in 1999 (SFIA, 1999a).
Sales of breaded and battered fillets have also risen, whereas household purchases of fish
fingers and battered fish steaks have reduced slightly over the same period (Figure 7).
FIGURE 7
Household purchases (by volume) in Great Britain for selected frozen
fish products (1993-2000)
18
Fish of the Day
(from SFIA, 1999)
These differences may help account for the change in where we buy our fish. Fishmongers’
share of the market has shrunk dramatically, while the biggest growth has been in those shops
which sell a variety of products (the multiples, such as supermarkets). Their share of the market
value has risen from 30 per cent in 1982 to just under 70 per cent in 1998 (Figure 8).
FIGURE 8
Market share of fresh, chilled, smoked, frozen fish and fish product household purchases
in Great Britain (value) 1982-1998.
(from SFIA, 1999)
The knock-on effects of these sorts of changes can be seen in the processing industry where the
total number of employees has increased by 15 per cent since 1995, with a concurrent decrease
in the primary processing sector (SFIA, 1999b).
3.3
FILLING THE GAP – THE NEED TO IMPORT FISH
The state of fish stocks in EU waters clearly affects the supply of fish. A survey by the SFIA
(1999a) noted that UK landings declined by 31 per cent between 1994 and 1999 and that,
although imports increased by 15 per cent, there was a net decrease of 11 per cent in the fish
available to the processing industry (see Figure 9). In 2000, the live weight of sea fish landed in
Scotland fell by 8 per cent to 360,000 tonnes, with landings of demersal and pelagic species
alone falling by 14 per cent. This was worth a total of £305 million, a fall of 5 per cent on the
value of the catch in the previous year.
Fish of the Day 19
FIGURE 9
UK landings by UK vessels, 1992-1999.
(from SFIA, 2000)
Although the amount of fish we consume in the UK has actually decreased, there is still a need
to import fish from a variety of sources. Landings by UK vessels in UK ports provide the
majority of supplies but it is also necessary to import fish to keep up with demand. In 1999,
484,418 tonnes of fish and fish preparations valued at £1,114.622 million were imported into
the UK (Figure 10) while fish exports valued at £535.133 million amounted to 269,475 tonnes.
FIGURE 10
Imports of fish and fish products (including shellfish) into the UK (SFIA, 2000)
20
Fish of the Day
Imports of demersal and pelagic fish into the UK are dominated by fresh, chilled or frozen cod
and haddock, which reflects the popularity of these species in the UK market, while mackerel
and herring dominate the export trade. Fish are imported into the UK from many parts of the
world. Within the EU, the major suppliers are Denmark, Germany and the Irish Republic, while
Iceland and Norway are very significant suppliers from within the European Free Trade Area.
Elsewhere in the world the biggest suppliers to the UK are the Faroe Islands and Russia. Overall
it appears that imports have increased since 1989, and exports decreased, creating a trade gap in
the UK (Figure 11).
Most international trade in fish deals with frozen fish although there is also significant
movement of canned, salted, smoked, prepared and preserved fish. Because of the difficulties of
keeping fish fresh, it makes up less of the trade – but improved logistics and increased demand
is helping this sector.
FIGURE 11
Quantity of fish available for domestic use in the UK 1989-1998
The recent European Commission Green Paper on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy
(CFP) reports that many stocks are outside safe biological limits and makes it clear that the CFP
“has not delivered sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and will need to be changed if
it is to do so”.
A shortage in the supply of fish may seem a remote possibility to the consumer, who will
always find fish for sale in the shops (albeit at a price). However, the shortage of some species
is already a reality. Memories of the collapse of the herring fishery in the 1970s have been
replaced by talk about the demise of the cod, another previously abundant fish. Regional
specialities are also at risk. A recent article in the fishing press reported that the production of
the Arbroath Smokie has ceased for the foreseeable future because of a shortage of haddock.
The high market prices of those that were available meant that the fish were being sold at a loss.
One response to this decline would be to stop eating fish, but this would only serve to encourage
a spiral of decline. Instead, we should ensure that we can continue to enjoy fish as a tasty and
healthy part of our diet, by making the right choices about what we buy. By supporting the use
of more responsible fishing practices, we will be providing an incentive to manage stocks and
the wider marine environment in a sustainable way, thereby contributing to the long-term
viability of our fisheries and dependent coastal communities.
Fish of the Day 21
4
Case studies
4.1
INTRODUCTION
The pattern in the UK and other developed countries suggests that in future, we will be eating
more farmed fish, white fish, crustaceans and molluscs. There are clearly many choices for the
consumer, which are influenced by the availability of particular species, changes in economic
and social conditions of the fishery, developments in fish production, processing, distribution
and marketing strategies, and the market price. This report aims to provide some generic
guidance to the consumer on how to support more environmentally responsible fisheries in the
UK. The following information is given for each case study:
•
•
•
•
•
a general description of the fishery with information on the state of the stocks, current
quotas, and the quantity of landings;
the importance of the fishery to particular areas and/or communities;
management measures applied to the fishery at present and those which are being
considered for the future in order to sustain the fishery;
the environmental issues relevant to the fishery and efforts such as different catching
techinques that are being made to resolve these; and
a unique recipe is provided by celebrity chef and supporter of WWF, Ross Burden.
In addition, several less well-known species are briefly described to give a taste of what else
may be on offer at the fishmonger. We are including fisheries from different parts of the UK and
the Isle of Man to reflect the vast differences between the size, location and management of UK
fisheries, as well as level of impact that different gears have on the wider marine environment.
4.2
THE HERRING FISHERY
4.2.1
Introduction
Named the King of the Sea by generations of fishers, the herring stock was considered to be an
inexhaustible food supply, sustaining millions and creating entire communities across the coasts
of continental Europe and the British Isles. The unpredictable shifts of the herring have
influenced and significantly affected entire economies and political alliances. Although herring
has maintained its popularity in some northern European countries, it is absent from the modern
UK diet.
22
Fish of the Day
Box 1 The herring (Clupea harengus)
Capable of living for 25 years and reaching 40cm in length, the herring matures at around two or
three years of age and first enters the fishery for human consumption at around 20 to 25cm. Despite
its dark blue back shading and opalescent white belly, the old name “silver darling” accurately
describes how it may first appear. The herring is widely distributed around the UK continental shelf. It
is a pelagic species and relies on tiny planktonic crusteaceans to fuel its endless migrations. The size
of the shoals once defied comprehension, spanning miles and consisting of millions of fish weighing
thousands of tonnes. At night, the herring migrates from the seabed to the surface to follow its prey.
Although biologically identical, UK herring are divided into genetically distinct populations, each with
its own migration routes, habitats and spawning areas. The herring can produce 10,000 to 30,000
eggs at a single spawning which, unlike most other sea fish, fall to the seabed rather than drift
suspended in the water column. Some of the eggs find protection in gravel beds or seaweeds. It is
possible that the herring was once anadromous – capable of living in fresh or saltwater – perhaps
originally breeding in riverine environments.
Minimum Landing Size: 20cm
4.2.2
Hunting the herring
Drifting (known as “driving” in south-west England) was the sole method of catching herring
for hundreds of years. From the mid-19th century, fleets of around 25 nets, each 90m by 12m,
were set from sail or steam-driven boats. These boats would drift across the rising shoals at
night, taking advantage of the herring’s natural migrations. The nets were extremely delicate
and easily damaged, especially during poor weather conditions. The amount a single vessel
could catch was therefore limited and would rarely exceed 30 tonnes.
The introduction of steam vessels had a profound impact on the herring fishery, and had knockon effects for all modern fisheries. Engine-powered vessels allowed the year-round pursuit of
herring which could also be more efficiently distributed via the rail network. But these advances
were at a cost. Building a steam-powered vessel was up to five times more expensive than a sail
boat of a similar size and required four tonnes of coal a week to operate (Wigan, 1998).
Increasing overheads demanded bigger catches per vessel and changed the traditional economic
structure of fishing for ever.
New materials and techniques, such as the purse seine and the mid-water trawl, increased the
catching power of the herring fleet. Technological advances during the Second World War such
as hydraulics, radar and sonar, helped to power exploitation of the stocks still further. At the
same time, the spawning grounds of the herring were being increasing disturbed by demersal
trawling activities.
Box 2 The purse seine
A descendant of the traditional Scottish ring net (itself a descendant of the driftnet), the modern purse
seine is capable of catching up to 400 tonnes of herring in one shot. It is set to encircle a shoal,
forming a vertical cylinder up to 600m in diameter. The purse line is threaded loosely through the
bottom of the net and is drawn in to close the bottom of the cylinder, forming the purse. The herring
are then pumped or lifted on board.
Fish of the Day 23
4.2.3
Stock, effort and landings
2001 EU TAC for herring:
2001 UK quota for herring:
2001 UK North Sea quota for herring:
647,020 tonnes
86,923 tonnes
40,570 tonnes
Although markets have risen and fallen over the centuries, the overall abundance of herring has
not. Local decreases in catches were recorded from the early days of the commercial fishery,
and were often attributed to shifts in the location of the shoal rather than abundance The
increase in catching power of the driftnet fleet after 1900 reduced the inshore herring in some
areas, but had not yet impacted the offshore stocks. The advent of a recognisably “modern”
fishing fleet in the early 1950s found an offshore herring stock that had been relatively
undisturbed since the outbreak of the Second World War.
From the 1960s to the early 1970s, Britain, Norway and the eastern European states increased
their fishing effort significantly in the North Sea. Trawlers, purse seiners and factory ships
directed their efforts at herring in what were then international waters. Further pressure was put
on herring stocks by the increase in power and the frequency of bottom trawls which disturbed
their gravel spawning grounds. Industrial fisheries also added to the problem. These fisheries
target small pelagic species such as sandeels, Norway pout and sprats, and are known to include
adult and juvenile herring. They are mainly processed into fishmeal for livestock and farmed
fish.
The collapse of the herring stocks was dramatic. By 1969 the Norwegian catch alone had
dropped from 600,000 tonnes to 80,000 tonnes. The North Sea herring fishery was eventually
closed in 1977 and re-opened in 1981. It has since remained productive, although at a lower and
potentially more variable level than before the collapse. The herring stock is now more closely
monitored, and the decline in the spawning stock to less than 500,000 tonnes in 1996 prompted
the swift introduction of emergency measures. As a result, the stock gradually increased to
910,000 tonnes in 2000. Emergency measures will remain in place until the spawning stock
reaches 1.3 million tonnes. Several important management goals for North Sea herring have
been agreed by Norway and the EU:
•
spawning stock must be kept above 800,000 tonnes the minimum acceptable level;
•
the Total Allowable Catch for herring, set annually, includes herring caught accidentally by
industrial fisheries (CEFAS, 1999).
4.2.4
The community and the environment
At the height of the 19th century trade, Wick became the “capital” of the east coast herring,
playing host to 1,700 vessels, their crews and 10,000 ancillary workers. Herring communities
have grown, prospered and fallen, but none more so than on the east coast of Scotland. Ideally
situated to exploit the summer migration of the Atlanto-Scandic stocks and aided through
government subsidies, the population turned from a near subsistence fishery, selling what little
surplus that could find a market, to an export driven international one.
By the time of the 1977 to 1981 closures, the east coast fishing fleet had changed significantly.
Over-capitalisation had resulted in hugely efficient and wide-ranging vessels which characterise
the offshore fleet today. As fewer vessels worked the inshore grounds, the ties with local
communities decreased, as did the sense of stewardship. The remaining drifters, with their small
24
Fish of the Day
and fresh catches, were included in the total ban, which removed herring from the consumer
market.
The closure of the North Sea herring fishery undoubtedly saved the herring from commercial
extinction, but it almost certainly accelerated its decline as a regular part of the UK consumers’
diet. During the closure, the traditional catching skills, the market share, processors and
premises were lost. Consumers found other sources of cheap protein, and the traditional skills of
herring preparation, were largely lost. Nevertheless, the modern Scottish herring fishing fleet
can supply vast amounts of wild, healthy protein, so long as the recovery plans are rigorously
enforced. Mid-water trawls and purse seines used by the fleet have little direct impact on the
wider marine environment, as they are directed at this single, fast-reproducing species which is
generally found higher up in the water column away from complex demersal marine
communities. Any reduction in consumer demand for herring may lead to pressure by industrial
fisheries to increase their share of juvenile herring, literally reducing this tasty and valuable
resource into nothing more than chicken feed.
Herring need not be a dish of the past. It is important to support the industry by increasing
demand for this tasty and versatile fish.
Fish of the Day 25
!!!!!!!
Herring with beetroot gnocchi
1 large red onion
2 tomatoes about 200g each
1 aubergine, around 300g
2 garlic cloves, finely
chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
4 large herring, scaled and
filleted
300ml fresh home-made
tomato sauce or salsa
For the gnocchi:
300g floury potatoes
300g raw beetroot
150g plain flour
Serves 8
To start the gnocchi, cook the potatoes in their skins until
done and drain. When bearable, peel and squeeze through a
ricer or sieve. While they cook, peel and boil the beetroot,
then puree when done. Mix the two pastes with the flour
and work into a soft dough. Add more flour if necessary –
but the more flour, the heavier they are. Roll into sausages
of 1.5cm thickness and then cut into 2cm lengths,
squeezing into hourglass shapes as you go.
Chop the aubergine, tomatoes and onion into small pieces
and sauté together until a soft but not sloppy mixture is
formed. Season and set aside.
Check the fillets for bones and place four on large pieces of
oiled foil. Spread them with the mixture of aubergine and
tomato and then place the other fillets top to tail on top.
Form the foil around the fish, into “sausages”.
Roast the fish for 18-22 minutes at 180ºC depending on the
size of herring – test the rolls by pushing an index finger
into them. If there’s any give, cook a little longer; but
don’t cook beyond nascent firmness.
Meanwhile, poach the gnocchi in salted water for 90
seconds or so, until they float. Skim the cooked gnocchi out
and dress lightly in oil.
Halve the rolled herring and peel off the foil.
Serve on a pool of the tomato sauce and surrounded by the
gnocchi.
Great with bread and a salad!
26
Fish of the Day
4.3
THE MACKEREL HANDLINE FISHERY
4.3.1
Introduction
For many centuries, the Atlantic mackerel was eaten only by people living close to the ports
where they were fished. The fresh mackerel was difficult to trade until the arrival of cheap ice
and the opening of the Great Western Railway. Although it was never a rival to the more
famous Cornish pilchard fishery, the mackerel drivers (driver = drifter) of the late 19th century
provided a valuable winter fishery for those fishers independent of the pilchard seine fisheries
and their wealthy owners. To this day, Cornish mackerel is still valuable to inshore fishermen
who compete against capital intensive industrial fishing methods.
Box 3 The mackerel (Scomber scombrus)
Anyone who has seen a fresh tuna will recognise the mackerel as a minature member of the same
family, the Scombridae. One of the most beatiful of all the Scombrids, its blue-green back marked
with black “zebra” stripes and its metallic pearl-like belly make it almost invisible in its natural habitat.
Growing up to 55cm, it becomes sexually mature at 30cm when it is around three years old. It rarely
lives to more than eight years (Christensen, 1977). The mackerel is a shoaling, pelagic (mid-water)
species, and is among the fastest swimming fish in the sea. Like the shark, it has no swim bladder,
and must swim to prevent itself from sinking to the seabed. The mackerel powers through the sea
with its mouth wide open, straining plankton through its extended gill rakers or by swallowing whole
smaller, slower pelagic fish, larvae and eggs. It is a highly mobile, migratory species widely distributed
around the British Isles and the North-east Atlantic. Due to major shifts in location, the main stocks
such as the western and southern stocks are now identified by their spawning locations.
Minimum Landing Size: 20cm (but most handline-caught mackerel are considerably larger)
4.3.2
Handlining
Handlining for mackerel – or whiffing as it is known in Cornwall – uses one of the simplest and
oldest fishing methods: a hook on a line. Summer shoals are worked using the simplest type of
handline, a weighted length of line to which a series of hooks are attached at regular intervals.
In addition to the use of echo-sounders, traditional indicators for the shoals are often used, such
as diving seabirds or oily patches of water.
When a shoal has been located, the line is jerked up and down (jigged) at various depths to
attract the mackerel to the brightly marked hooks. Once a few thumps on the line have been felt,
it is pulled up hand over hand and the mackerel is flicked off into the waiting pound. The line is
then dropped back as quickly as possible before the mackerel disappear. The most experienced
handliners use a continuous loop of nylon line with 30-35 hooks. This arrangement allows the
mackerel to be continually attracted, caught and shaken into the boat.
During the winter months a device called a gurdy (an oversized fishing reel: after hurdy-gurdy)
is used to wind in the heavier winter catches. In fine weather and with persistent hungry shoals
on the grounds, an expert handliner can land around 1,000kg of prime mackerel a day.
Handliners quickly shift their fishing effort to locate larger more valuable fish elsewhere if they
seem initially to be catching large amounts of small mackerel. The fish caught using these
methods are considered to be very good quality because they are landed, weighed and iced
within hours.
Fish of the Day
27
Box 4 The Mackerel Box
A closed area off the south-west coast of the UK was created in 1981 to stop trawl and seine being
targeted on the abundant juvenile mackerel. This area was extended in 1989 to become what is
known as the Mackerel Box. Handlining is not considered to be a threat to the stock inside or outside
the box.
4.3.3
Stock, effort and landings
2001 EU TAC for mackerel:
2001 UK quota for mackerel:
2001 South-west handline quota for mackerel:
421,383 tonnes
199,649 tonnes
1,750 tonnes
A variety of inshore vessels (toshers and punts) ranging in size from 4mm to 10m make up the
modern mackerel handline fishery. In general, this fishery is operated by individual fishermen.
In 1998, more than 300 (Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee, 1999). Cornish vessels listed
handlining as part of their fishing operations. Landings were approximately 2,200 tonnes in
1997 and provided a valuable income to this fisheries-dependent region. This is obviously
relatively minor compared with the 30,000 tonnes taken by UK mid-water trawlers (those trawls
that concentrate their effort in the middle of the water column) and purse seiners immediately
outside the Box.
The North-east Atlantic mackerel stock includes the western stock fished by the handliners and
is considered by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to be within
“safe biological limits” and not at risk from current levels of exploitation. However, there is
increasing concern regarding the level of discards and by-catch associated with industrial
fisheries also operating inside the Mackerel Box. In 1997, it was estimated that over 1,000
tonnes of mackerel were retained as by-catch by industrial fishing vessels from the Netherlands
and Denmark inside the Box.
4.3.4
The community and the environment
Handlining is a relatively low-intensity method of fishing which is highly selective, taking very
little by-catch. The current scale of the handlining operation in the south-west of England is not
considered to be a threat to the sustainability of the stock and has limited impact on the wider
marine environment. In contrast, less selective gear such as purse seines and mid-water trawlers,
may result in millions of juvenile mackerel being dumped at sea (usually dead) because they are
the wrong size for the market or below the minimum landing size. Nevertheless, handliners are
required to fish from the same quota as these larger fishing vessels, despite the fact that it takes
over two years for a handliner to catch the equivalent of a single 400-tonne haul from a purse
seiner. In addition, purse seiners and mid-water trawlers can catch the whole season’s quota
within hours, which could close the entire fishery.
The handline fishery is extremely important to the Cornish inshore fleet and the small
communities from which it operates. The low cost involved with this particular fishery allows
young fishers to enter an industry renowned for its huge overheads and start-up costs. This, and
the proximity of the grounds to the shore, allows young people to earn (and learn) a living and
remain in their own communities. The young and skilled handliners are also a continuing source
of crew for larger vessels operating from the same ports, ensuring the future viability of the port
and its associated markets.
28
Fish of the Day
The high quality of mackerel caught by handlining is not always reflected in the market price,
partly due to the seasonal irregularity of the catches. This causes problems for buyers trying to
supply to larger supermarkets. However, reluctance to adapt to the natural variations in
abundance could be overcome if consumer demand could be increased towards better quality
and more sustainably-caught catch. The retention and stricter enforcement of the Mackerel Box
and the reallocation of the quota in favour of the more sustainable handline fishery, would help
ensure a long-term and sustainable future for the handliners and their catch.
Fish of the Day
29
!!!!!!!
Mackerel and chickpea stew
6 small fresh mackerel,
cleaned with their heads
Dredge the mackerel in a little flour, then fry in olive oil
until browned on both sides. Remove and reserve.
removed
Plain flour
4 tbsp olive oil
1 kg fresh tomatoes, peeled
Put the picada ingredients, except the oil, in a food
processor and blend until smooth. Work the oil in, then fry
in the fish pan for a minute.
and pureed
500 ml fish stock
A pinch saffron threads
Add the tomatoes and fish stock, cook for five minutes or
until thickened, stirring occasionally.
400 g tin of chick peas,
drained
For the picada:
Return the fish to the pan with the saffron and chickpeas.
Simmer for 15 minutes. Test that the fish is cooked in the
thickest part and season with salt and pepper.
6 garlic cloves
1 red pepper, roasted and
peeled
12 blanched almonds
12 hazelnuts, skinned
1 slice white bread, fried in
olive oil until golden brown
3 tbsp chopped parsley
A few drops of white wine
Serves 6
30
Fish of the Day
Serve with bread and salad.
4.4
THE NEPHROPS FISHERY
4.4.1
Introduction
Nephrops (prawn) fisheries are some of the most important and valuable fisheries around the
British Isles. Major grounds are found in the Minches, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea. The
proximity of the UK to the grounds means that local fleets are able to land the freshest whole or
live nephrops in the EU and can therefore command a high premium. The UK also has the
largest share of the EU quota (Bannister, 2001). The conflict between mobile and static gears is
a significant factor in this resource, as are the starkly different values given to catches caught by
creel (see below) or a trawl.
Box 5 The Dublin Bay Prawn, Norway Lobster, Nephrops, Langoustine, Scampi (Nephrops
norvegicus)
Nephrops, as it is generally known to scientists and industry, is a decapod (10-legged) crustacean
related to the crab, shrimp and lobster. It can grow to lengths above 24cm (not including the claws)
and varies in colour from watery orange to a pale red, sometimes with banded claws. It lives in
complex burrows dug into soft muds, and emerges only at night. It reproduces every year, the female
carrying relatively few eggs (500 to 5,000) compared with other crustaceans such as the crab, which
produces 200,000 to 3 million eggs a year (Bannister, 2001). For part of the day, the burrows protect
nephrops from trawling, and it is mostly the males which are caught during the night when they are
more active. Huge slow marine eddies known as gyres retain the planktonic larvae in areas close to
where they hatch. As a result, distinct stocks are being identified by the Department of Agriculture for
Northern Ireland (DANI) and others with a view to attaching a separate TAC to each stock.
Minimum Landing Size: 85mm (except Irish Sea and Minches, which are 70mm)
4.4.2
Catching nephrops
Two very different methods are used to catch nephrops. The bulk of the quota is taken by large
vessels averaging 17m overall length which (Winnard & Banks, 1999) tow small 70-mm
meshed trawls for three or four hours across the soft muddy grounds. The catch is sorted and the
discards, non-target fish and undersize nephrops are thrown back, mostly dead or dying. Some
trawlers land the nephrops whole, while others tail them and sprinkle preservatives over them,
effectively part-processing them at sea to increase their shelf life. Trawlers work only during the
hours of darkness.
Nephrops are also caught using creels. These are small baited traps, similar to crab pots,
connected by a back rope in groups of 50 to 100. They are set onto the muddy seabed from
small vessels, usually less than 10 metres in length. The creels are relocated after a few days and
the nephrops are removed and checked. Any undersized nephrops are returned alive to continue
growing. There are no discards associated with this fishery. The retained nephrops are carefully
placed in tubes (similar to their burrows) upright in trays, and are kept cool and wet until they
are returned to shore. They are then placed in refrigerated re-circulated seawater tanks prior to
distribution to the markets. This is an expensive process but rewards the fishermen, processors
and retailers along the distribution chain because of the high premium that the creel-caught live
nephrops attracts: around double the value of the trawled variety.
Fish of the Day
31
4.4.3
Stock, effort and landings
2001 EU TAC for nephrops: 56,140 tonnes
2001 UK quota for nephrops: 30,680 tonnes
Nephrops landings fluctuate without revealing any significant trend. The assumption is that
these fluctuations are not caused by variations in fishing mortality, so the stock is not presently
considered by ICES to be under threat. Trawlers currently land 90 per cent of the catch and
creelers 10 per cent (pers. comm., Trevor Bartlett, live nephrops trader). While the majority of
all nephrops landings are by Scottish vessels, the nephrops fishery is particularly important to
the Northern Irish fleet: in 1998, landings of the Northern Irish nephrops fishery were worth
over £9 million, 46 per cent of the value of all fish landings in the province. Nephrops are
mainly landed at the ports of Kilkeel, Ardglass and Portavogie, the highest landings taking place
from January to mid-summer.
Fisheries in Northern Ireland provide employment for 700 fishers and 1,300 people in the
processing industry, the majority of whom are employed by the nephrops fishery. Initially
nephrops were processed into scampi for internal and external markets. In the last 10 or 15
years, however, the trend has been towards landing whole large Nephrops for the export market:
37 per cent of the catch was landed whole in 2000.
4.4.3
Environmental and social aspects
The creel fishery is traditional in the sense that it often supports small, fisheries-dependent
communities which can neither afford nor harbour larger vessels. Creeling has the potential to
generate an extremely valuable source of income in some of the poorest and remotest areas of
the UK. Its impacts on the environment are considered to be minimal, in common with many
static or trap gears. Nevertheless, a major stumbling block to realising the potential of the creel
fishery is the “gear conflict” issue. This is the problem of separating two different types of gear
– mobile and static – which are targeting the same species in the same place.
A fleet of creels is extremely vulnerable to damage by trawl. Likewise, a conscientious trawler
owner stands to lose a lot if creels are shot across profitable grounds. Creelers are often forced
to operate between the soft mud and the harder grounds where trawlers are excluded as they
may snag and lose gear. The smaller size and range of the creel vessels means that they are also
limited in terms of the grounds they can reach and the sea conditions in which they can operate.
In a few places, agreements have been reached which specifically divide trawlers from creelers
in easily defined inshore areas, such as parts of Loch Torridon (Anon, 2001). Some creelers
believe there should be a restriction on the numbers of creels operating in any area, particularly
in the lochs or similar enclosed areas.
Trawling for nephrops is associated with a high by-catch of other important commercial species,
including cod and haddock. Following the collapse of Irish Sea cod stocks in January 2000, a
revised package of technical conservation measures for the Irish Sea nephrops fishery was
adopted by the European Commission. When using nets with mesh sizes between 70 and 79mm,
at least 35 per cent of the catch must include nephrops and other target species such as conger
eels (Conger conger), gurnards (Trigla spp.), mackerel and herring. In addition, a square mesh
panel with 80mm mesh must be used. These are designed to ensure that the mesh does not close
up when being lifted through the water column, which could help increase the number of
juveniles escaping from the net and therefore reduce the level of discarding. For those vessels
32
Fish of the Day
using nets with mesh sizes between 80 to 99mm, at least 30 per cent of the catch must include
species on this list. In addition, a minimum landing size of 20mm carapace length and 70mm
total length is applied to nephrops caught in the Irish Sea fishery.
Recent trials on the use of larger meshes in the top panels of the nets and the use of separator
trawls have also shown some success in reducing by-catch. The number and deployment of
trawlers has significantly increased the effort on the fishery and although their added effort has
not yet threatened the nephrops stock, increases in the number of discards of other unwanted
and undersized demersal species is a cause for concern. In addition, any fishery which takes
large numbers of younger and smaller fish, even within the legal size limits, may suffer from
“growth overfishing”. This happens when a stock is harvested or discarded before it has reached
its most valuable size. A nephrops tail sold for 2p from the trawl fishery could be worth £2 if it
is caught live a few years later by creel.
The ocean-going trawl and inshore creel fishery can be easily characterised as good and bad
fishery practices. However, it should be remembered that there are very few fishing
communities that are not under threat, and that all working vessels are helping to support a
community and hinterland associated with its home port. The offshore grounds, which are
trawled by the nephrops trawler, are also trawled by whitefish trawlers and it is unlikely that
they will ever be open to the creelers.
Both types of fishery can apparently co-exist without damaging their target species at their
current levels of effort – but they could also improve their level of sustainability by reducing
their environmental impact.
Fish of the Day
33
!!!!!!!
Sauté of langoustines, chorizo and beans
400g slicing chorizo in one piece
Preheat the oven to 200°C
3 tbsp good olive oil
12 langoustines
400g frozen broad beans, defrosted
When warm, bake the slices of bread until
crisp to form crostini.
and skinned
juice of 2 lemons
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
12 slices French bread
Serves 6
Cut the chorizo into sticks about 5cm long
and 1cm thick. Heat the oil in a large frying
pan and gently sauté on all sides until
lightly browned. Remove and drain; pour
the oil away
Add the langoustine tails to the glistening
pan and fry on a high heat for a couple of
minutes, until opaque.
Return the chorizo to the pan with the
beans, lemon juice, parsley and season.
Swiftly heat through, remembering that too
much heat will rubberise the langoustines.
Put the crostini around a small serving
platter and pile the sauté over them.
Eat quickly.
34
Fish of the Day
4.5
THE MANX SCALLOP FISHERY
4.5.1
Introduction
The Isle of Man is in the heart of one of the major UK scallop fisheries. Other scallop grounds
include the English Channel, the Irish Sea and the west and east coasts of Scotland. The Manx
government, the Tynwald, has a long history of proactive fisheries management with powers to
close herring fisheries dating back to 1610. The engagement of the Tynwald with fishermen and
scientists is considered by some to be a model for other UK legislatures.
Box 6 The scallop (Pecten maximus/ Manx-tanrogan)
The Great scallop is a bivalve mollusc which lives within a hinged shell. If encountered when diving, it
can prove suprisingly mobile. The huge abductor muscle (the scallop’s white meat) slams shut the
two halves of its shell, causing it to retreat in a series of hydraulic spurts. It has more than 50 eyes
which ring its circumference. It is a hermaphrodite carrying both male and female gonads, but is not
self-fertilising. The scallop can grow to 17cm in diameter, but rarely appears above 12cm in
commercial fisheries. The Queen scallop (Chlamys opercularis) is not the female or young of the
Great scallop, but a different and much more active species when disturbed.
Minimum landing sizes:
4.5.2
Irish Sea and west coast: 11cm (max width)
All other areas:
10cm
Catching or growing
Three main methods of exploiting scallops are used in the UK. Most landings are caught by
towed dredges consisting of toothed “rakes” which pull the scallop out of the substrate and into
a holding bag made of iron rings. The spacing between the teeth and the diameters of the iron
rings determine the size of the scallops caught. Between 10 and 20 dredges can be towed by
small or medium vessels, and up to 40 by larger vessels. The dredges are designed to be towed
along hard grounds without causing damage to the gear. Scallops are also occasionally caught as
by-catch in otter or beam trawls.
The impact of dredges on the seabed can be considerable, and areas once dredged are unlikely
to return to their pristine state. The action of the dredge not only dislodges and damages marine
life, but can also change the character of the seabed by scraping away pebbles and stones.
Maerl, a slow-growing, hard, coral-like seaweed, is particularly vulnerable to damage from
towed gear as it is unable to survive if it is smothered or buried by suspended sediment. Other
habitats, such as fine sand or some gravels, may be more robust as they are naturally dynamic
and shifting environments. However, disturbance may still significantly alter the population
structure.
Scallops are also hand collected by divers in shallower waters with a low tidal flow.
Commercial dredges are rarely able to reach these areas. These enterprises are more popular in
Scottish waters. Although figures are difficult to obtain or verify, 200 to 300 scallops per diver
are considered to be a good day’s catch and 7,500 kg a reasonable year’s catch. “Diver-caught
scallops” are a regular feature on upmarket restaurant menus, attracting a market premium of
around 66 per cent over dredged scallops.
Fish of the Day
35
Commercial scallop farming is mainly carried out in Scotland and the products can be sold at a
premium. The cultivation process is closer to “ranching” than the intensive aquaculture
associated with most fish farming. Spats (young stages of scallops) are collected from the wild
and transferred to suspended culture platforms. After 2½ years, and on reaching about 50mm in
width, the ranched scallops are transferred to the seabed, which is cleared of natural predators
such as starfish. The scallops are left to grow for further two or three years until they reach the
commercial size of 100 to 110mm (Anon, 1999b).
4.5.3
Stock, effort and landings
There are no TACs for scallops.
Most UK landings are attributed to the highly mobile Scottish fleet which operates on the
grounds of the east and west coast of Scotland, the Irish and Celtic Seas, and as far south as
Cornwall. The majority of English scallopers operate on the grounds in the Channel. Current
scallop landings for the UK are worth £27.6 million.
Scallops are fished only for limited periods of the year, and at present levels of effort stocks,
they are considered to be at sustainable levels. However, scientists have expressed concern
about some of the stocks around Scotland, and at the increasing levels of effort being directed at
the Irish Sea fisheries. This has encouraged the introduction of new conservation measures,
which are currently being developed with the fishing industry. They are likely to include:
•
a limited weekend ban;
•
limits on the numbers of dredges used and the tow bar length;
•
limits on the number of teeth and belly rings on the dredge;
•
minimum landing sizes; and
•
closed seasons
More recently, it has been proposed that entry into the scallop fishery in England and Wales
should be subject to licensing, as is the case in Scotland. This would be an important step
towards capping effort. Local inshore bylaws are also imposed by the Sea Fisheries Committees
where there is concern for increasing effort on the local stocks. Measures include limiting the
number of dredges that a vessel can work, typically a maximum of eight within three to six
miles of the shore.
4.5.4
The community and the environment
The relationship between the Manx authorities and the Manx fleet is a good example of how
regional fisheries can be well managed. The Tynwald recognises the importance of the fishery
to its fishing communities and the island as a whole, so it works closely with the fishermen to
help develop sustainable management plans. After the decline of the Manx herring fishery in the
early 1900s, the much-reduced local fleet turned to other fisheries. Scalloping becoming
increasingly attractive through the early 1970s. Local effort on the grounds increased over the
years, as did the effort exerted by the Scottish scalloping fleet, particularly during seasonal
closures of other grounds. At the request of the local industry, a range of controls has been
introduced to limit this effort, such as:
•
a named boat licensing scheme;
36
Fish of the Day
•
a closed season (1 June to 31 October); and
•
daily curfews (inside three miles 0600hrs to 1800hrs; three miles out to the 12-mile
territorial limit 0500hrs to 2100hrs).
There are also restrictions on the type and number of dredges that can be used within the 12mile limit and these are rigidly enforced by the Manx fishery protection vessel.
The presence of the University of Liverpool’s Port Erin Laboratory means that the Tynwald has
had access to high quality research facilities to help monitor the local stock. Much of its work
has been concerned with monitoring closed areas within Manx territorial waters and comparing
them with catch/effort information which is voluntarily recorded by Manx fishermen. This
research helps to distinguish between the human and environmental induced effects on the
scallop stocks. As well as studying the culture of scallops, the laboratory is also looking at ways
of maintaining stocks by fishery rotation – closing overfished areas to allow the fishery and
grounds to recover.
Box 7 Algal blooms
Scallops, along with many other molluscs, are filter feeders and obtain their food by straining the
waters flowing over them. From time to time they ingest certain species of minute, naturally-occurring
algae (phytoplankton) which produce toxins that are harmful to humans, other mammals and birds.
The algal toxins rarely harm the scallops themselves, however. Once affected, the scallops will retain
the toxin for many months. If ingested by humans, the toxins in the shellfish can cause a number of
potentially lethal health effects:
• PSP – paralytic shellfish poisoning
• DSP – diarrhetic shellfish poisoning
• ASP – amnesic shellfish poisoning (responsible for the most recent closures)
Tests for toxins are carried out regularly in the seas around the grounds as well as in the meat of the
scallop. Several marine scientists have suggested that the huge amounts of nitrogen and other
nutrients released from fish farms could be responsible for the increasing frequency of blooms of
these toxic algae. The ground closures caused by such blooms is responsible for major shifts in
scallop dredging effort.
The recent closures of scallop fisheries in the Isle of Man as a result of amnesic shellfish
poisoning have highlighted the dangers of relying on a single-species fishery. The Tynwald and
the industry are therefore exploring other low-impact fisheries, such as small-scale herring
fisheries and nephrops creel fisheries, so that the fleet can diversify. Experience of the Scottish
fleet has shown that creel fisheries and scallop ranching can co-exist, if the area being worked is
closed to trawling or dredging. The Tynwald is also considering buying quota, including herring
quota, to be owned by the Manx people in perpetuity and leased to Manx fishermen. This option
is being considered by many regional organisations and is seen as a means to prevent the drift of
fishing rights away from local control. This would serve to strengthen the bond between the
community and the resource.
Fish of the Day
37
!!!!!!!
Scallops on poori with aubergine puree
30 smallish scallops – don’t
use 15 medium and halve:
it doesn’t work!
To make the poori, sift the flour, spices and baking soda
together into a bowl. Add 90ml water and mix together.
Add the oil and then mix in a little more water, to form
a light dough. Set aside to rest.
For the poori:
170g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp baking soda
Roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm. Cut into circles
of 3cm or so. Shallow fry in the oil for two minutes or so;
they’ll puff up quite wonderfully. Drain on kitchen paper
and reserve.
2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus
a cup or so extra for frying
Trim the scallops and reserve the coral if preferred. If you
retain it, pierce to escape explosion!
For the aubergine puree:
1 aubergine
3 tbsp tahina
2 garlic cloves, rushed
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
Makes 30
Pierce the aubergine and bake or grill until it is dull and
soft. When cool, remove the stalk and peel. Cut into rough
pieces in a sieve and allow to drain a little. Squeeze out any
juices. Blend the flesh with the rest of the ingredients and
season with salt and pepper. A thick paste should form.
When ready, top the poori with a little of the puree and
a scallop.
Eat soon; it’s not a chore!
38
Fish of the Day
4.6
SAITHE
4.6.1
Introduction
Although the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) aims to provide a framework for the conservation
of EU fisheries, recent events have shown how this has failed. The EU has finally taken action
to attempt to recover cod and hake stocks, with the introduction of area closures and gear
restrictions in the North Sea, to be followed by similar restrictions in the Celtic Sea. However,
no time-limited compensation is available up-front. As a result, the industry has displaced
fishing effort onto other areas and species, including nursery grounds for plaice and haddock.
By sourcing and consuming alternative “round fish” caught in UK waters, consumers can help
to prevent the loss of markets and skills from the national cod fleet, and the overfishing that is
endemic to the quota system underpinning the CFP. One alternative to cod could be saithe.
Box 8 The saithe (Pollachius virens)
Saithe is a pelagic cousin of the cod and has many regional names such as coley, blackjack,
drummer and coal fish. It can grow to over a metre in length and weigh up to 14kg, but is normally
caught at lengths between 50 and 90cm. It has a distinctive dark charcoal colour on its back which
fades to a pale metallic grey on its belly. The lateral line (along its side) is a straight white stripe.
Saithe is a shoaling fish, feeding on small fish and plankton high in the water column, and is widely
distributed around the British Isles. Its flesh is slightly greyer than that of the cod, and is prized by the
Norwegians. It can be used in any recipe requiring cod. Saithe and scallops were the main
ingredients set at the prestigious Bocuse D'Or culinary championships in 1999.
Minimum landing size: 35cm
4.6.2
The fisheries
Saithe are targeted by Faroese and Norwegian fisheries in the far north and by UK vessels in the
west of Scotland waters. Pelagic trawls are mainly used – those operated in the top layer of the
water column and which target fast-swimming highly migratory pelagic species. Saithe also
appear in many other fisheries around the UK as a by-catch, particularly in the Celtic Sea and
Western Approaches. Here they are often caught by small inshore vessels using a variety of
methods such as jigging and trawling. They are landed in considerable numbers to the local
markets, often for export.
Box 9 Jigging
Jigging is a form of handline fishing operated over a wreck or reef, or any other feature that is likely to
attract large numbers of fish. Once the feature has been located, weighted hooks and lines are
dropped over the side upstream of the tidal flow. The vessel drifts over the shoal, while the lines are
pulled up and down (jigged) just clear of the wreck or reef. A gurdy (see mackerel case study) is
normally used to to ease the work and speed the recovery of the fish. Handline-caught fish are
considered to be good quality and often earn a premium. Long automatic jiggers were developed to
increase the catching power of the handliners. Although they can significantly increase vessel
earnings, they are expensive and difficult to operate. They are at their most cost effective on smaller
inshore vessels, so are unlikely to significantly affect the stocks they are targeting.
Fish of the Day
39
4.6.3
Stock, effort and landings7
2001 EU TAC for North-east Atlantic saithe: 62,980 tonnes
2001 EU TAC for ICES Area VII & VIII (covering the Western Waters
and the Channel): 5,600 tonnes
2001 UK quota for North-east Atlantic saithe: 11,851 tonnes
2001 UK quota for Area VII & VIII: 805 tonnes
ICES considers the stocks targeted by the Faroese and Norwegian fleets (and some Scottish
vessels) to be at or above safe biological limits. As no targeted fishery exists for ICES sub-area
VII8 (see Annex 1) saithe, it is difficult for ICES to give specific guidance on the stock. The UK
quota for ICES sub-area VII quota is rarely taken (according to MAFF (2000) uptake of quota
was 47 per cent in 2000) and this is attributed more to the fact that the stock is not under threat,
rather than the fish not being there.
4.6.4
The community and the environment
For centuries the saithe has been a staple food for fishing families around the British Isles, but
has been little seen by the urban markets. The lack of demand has led to low prices,
undervaluing the fish to the point where it has become an anonymous ingredient in scores of
processed, frozen convenience foods. Nevertheless, saithe is a good alternative to cod.
7
8
These figures are approximate as international quota swaps occur throughout the season
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) provides information and scientific advice to the
European Commission on the state of fish stocks in the North-east Atlantic. The ICES area is subdivided into a number
of rectangles. A map of these ICES sub-divisions is given in Annex 1.
40
Fish of the Day
!!!!!!!
Saithe in Parma ham with broad beans
6 pieces of saithe, cut from
the thickest part, each about
The fish should be cooked with the skin on – it’s so pretty
that it will show through the cooked ham.
170g
6 slices Parma ham
Wrap each piece in a slice of ham, then dredge with flour.
4 tbsp plain flour
6 tbsp olive oil
6 sprigs of fresh chervil to
garnish
Heat a little of the olive oil and then brown, serving side
down. Fry for two or three minutes or until brown and
crispy, then turn and fry the other side until it is just
cooked. Remove and keep warm in a hot oven.
280g shelled fresh peas
(blanched) or frozen petit
pois
225g frozen broad beans,
thawed and skinned
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and
Add the lemon juice and a little water to the pan. Bubble to
release the crispy bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the
peas, beans, parsley and capers. Season and pour over the
cooked fish. Do not over-cook as the greens will become
grey-looking.
drained
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Serves 6
Fish of the Day
41
4.7
OTHER LESS WELL-KNOWN SPECIES
The multi-species nature of many fisheries around the British Isles means that a single haul can
contain up to 20 edible species, few of which would be known to the UK consumer or chef as
“local”. Many would be recognised from holidays abroad, however. The lack of demand for
these species means that they are often discarded as unmarketable or sold as bait (such as the
tasty gurnards). An increase in the demand for the lesser-known species, with the concurrent
increase in price at first sale, could help reduce the constant pressure to increase the catch of
target species and to discard these often lower-value species.
4.7.1
Lobster (Homarus gammarus)
One of the most valuable species on the UK market, currently retailing at around £22 per
kilogram, the lobster is not so much under-utilised, but is included in this report as a good
example of voluntarily-imposed management by the fishing industry. Lobsters are distributed
around the rocky coasts. They produce many eggs, but have an extremely low rate of survival
during their first development (planktonic) phase. Fresh lobster comes on the market from April
to November. Lobsters are measured according to the length of their hard shell (carapace). The
Minimum Landing Size (MLS) can vary from area to area. Local Sea Fisheries Committees may
often impose a higher MLS than that recommended by the European Commission to ensure that
they are caught after they have reached maturity. There is currently no set TAC or quota for
lobster catches, although there are plans to cap the amount of effort targeted on shellfish by a
system of licences.
Lobsters are mainly caught using long “strings” of baited pots or creels. Some inshore vessels
still use the more traditional “inkwell” pots. Most of the directed fisheries for lobster are smallscale and are carried out by inshore vessels. It is rare to find more than one lobster in a single
pot as they are highly aggressive and cannibalistic. Potting is a relatively low intensity form of
fishing, although there may be some by-catch, such as the edible crab (Cancer pagurus) and
conger eel, associated with the traps. Lobster are also occasionally caught as by-catch in towed
gears, inshore nets and crab pots. In addition to creeling and potting for wild specimens, lobster
ranching has become popular in Orkney, Shetland and recently in Padstow, Cornwall. Hatcheryreared stock are released back into the wild at around 65mm to 70mm in length.
One voluntary conservation measure imposed in some areas is “v-notching” female lobsters that
are carrying eggs (berried females). A small triangular notch is cut into the tail before returning
them to sea to ensure that they are left to spawn. The notch disappears during the following
moult. Irrespective of size, any females carrying the v-notch should be released. In areas where
v-notching is practised, it is an offence under bylaw of the local Sea Fisheries Committee to
land notched lobsters. If you are ordering lobster in a restaurant, ask what the local MLS is, or
whether there is a v-notching scheme in operation. It is important that restaurateurs take
responsibility to buy lobsters that are the correct legal size limit and that are not berried females.
Minimum landing size: 85mm to 90mm carapace length
There is no set TAC for lobster
42
Fish of the Day
4.7.2
Dab (Limanda limanda)
The dab is among several flat fish species caught around the UK shores that are under-utilised
by the UK consumer. It is a member of the same family as halibut, but considerably smaller,
reaching a size of 40cm compared with 250cm for halibut. It is a small dark brown fish which
feeds on soft bottom-dwelling species. It is most common in the southern North Sea, but is
found in other parts of the British Isles. Dab is available for most of the year, although catches
usually drop in late spring.
Dab are normally caught by beam trawlers. Most of the EU quota for dab is allocated to the
Netherlands beam trawl fleet, which trawls across the seabed for demersal species of fish. The
UK quota is mostly caught as a by-catch of other fisheries. If there is no local market for dab in
the home port, it is often discarded over the side. An increase in consumer demand for dab
could help prevent this wasteful practice.
There is no Minimum Landing Size for dab, but they are marketed at between 20cm and 25cm.
EU TAC for 2001:
27,060 tonnes
Netherlands quota for 2001:
6,760 tonnes
UK quota for 2001:
2,330 tonnes
4.7.3
Pollack or lythe (Pollachius pollachius)
The pollack is a close relative of the saithe and is very similar in appearance. It has a dark
brown/bronze sheen on its back and a lighter underbelly. The lateral line arcs over the upper fin.
It has been known to grow to a metre in length, although it is usually marketed at 35 to 60cm.
Pollack tend to be found closer inshore than saithe around rocky coastlines. They spawn in
deeper water between November and early January before moving back in to shallower waters
for the rest of the year. Like the saithe, the distribution of pollack and the lack of a dedicated
fishery means there is insufficient information available on this species to assess the stocks
effectively.
Pollack are mainly caught by the inshore fleet as a by-catch of gillnet and trawl fisheries. They
are also sometimes targeted by handliners and smaller-scale fishers operating on wrecks. The
most sustainable method of capture is handlining, but properly controlled gillnet and trawl
fisheries need not harm the stock. Gillnets rarely catch undersized fish and when used around
wrecks in short lengths, they are generally not associated with the by-catch of marine mammals.
Pollack is more sought-after than saithe and is exported to France in large quantities where it is
known as lieu jaune. Like saithe, pollack is also an excellent substitute for cod.
Minimum landing size:
Total EU TAC for 2001:
Total UK quota for 2001:
35 cm.
21,950 tonnes
3,360 tonnes for ICES Area VII (the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea,
Western Approaches and the western Channel). Only 60 per
cent of the TAC was caught last year.
Fish of the Day
43
4.7.4
Ling (Molva molva)
The ling is a long thin fish often mistaken for a conger, although easily distinguished by a single
barbel on its chin. Ling is a member of the same family as the cod and the haddock (Gadidae),
so the flesh is white and flakes well when cooked. Ling can grow to a length of two metres but
are usually caught between 75cm to 100cm in length. They can be found around the rocky
coasts of the UK, usually in deep-water (100m to 300m). Ling produce an enormous number of
eggs, between 20 to 60 million per spawning. The status of the North-east Atlantic stock is
considered by ICES to be “uncertain” and stocks may be under pressure in some parts of the
region. Ling are occasionally caught as by-catch in UK trawls and wreck-nets, as well as on
handlines and longlines. Line-caught ling are of a superior quality and are often the preferred
choice of the consumer in terms of quality and sustainability. Ling can be used in any recipe
calling for cod.
Minimum landing size:
Total EU TAC in 2001:
Total UK quota in 2001:
4.7.5
63 cm
3,600 tonnes
205 tonnes
Spider crab (Maja squinado)
Although common around the west and south-west coasts of the British Isles, this species is
mostly eaten by the British when on holiday in France or Spain. It can be recognised by its
large, pear-shaped and spiny protective carapace. Spider crabs have been reported to move in
large numbers across the seabed. They may also climb on top of one another during the summer
to form large mounds, with the harder shelled crabs protecting the softer moulting crabs in the
middle.
Spider crabs appear inshore in mid-May and are a mainstay of the smaller multi-purpose inshore
vessels. They are caught using nets and pots and stored at sea alive until they are ready to sell,
mainly to continental markets. The spider crab can be prepared following any traditional crab
recipe.
Minimum landing size : 130mm carapace length for males and 120mm for females.
There is no recommended TAC for this species
Pilchard (Sardina pilchardus)
The pilchard reaches a maximum length of 25cm. It is a silvery shoaling pelagic species which
occupies the top layer of the water column. Stocks are found around the coasts of Britain and
Ireland, but are more abundant in the Mediterranean and the region extending from the Western
Approaches down to the Canaries. For nearly 400 years, Cornwall was the centre of a huge
export trade for this species, catching, salting, packing and shipping pilchards to Spain and Italy.
Recorded fluctuations in pilchard stocks over the years have been attributed in part to the socalled Russell cycle. This is largely driven by climatic or nutrient variations. The numbers of
pilchards in the western English Channel rose steadily from the 1930s as temperatures warmed,
reaching a maximum in the war. Stocks declined again in the 1960s as another cooling period
began. It is possible that the increase in mackerel stocks may have affected the ability for
pilchards to increase to these earlier higher levels.
44
Fish of the Day
Pilchards are still caught in small numbers today by small inshore vessels using traditional
driftnets and occasionally small ring-nets when there are sufficient fish available. The
sustainable development of this small-scale fishery depends on finding local UK markets which
can absorb seasonality of the fishery.
Minimum landing size for the pilchard: 11 cm.
4.7.7
Cephalopods
The cephalopod family includes commercial species of squid (Loligo forbesi) and cuttlefish
(Sepia officinalis). They have a relatively short life-cycle and widely fluctuate in abundance.
The cuttlefish has a large internal bone and distinctive striped markings and reaches a maximum
size of 26cm in a two-year lifespan. It can be found in the North and Irish Seas from the north of
England to the south. The squid has a long torpedo-shaped body with two large triangular fins at
the rear. Its geographic range is less extensive than that of the cuttlefish.
The cuttlefish is usually caught as by-catch in otter trawls during the summer and is a targeted
fishery for beam trawls in the English Channel in the winter. The use of cuttlefish traps, which
are deployed in a similar fashion to crab pots, is becoming increasingly common in the UK
inshore fleet, particularly on the north-east coast. These traps only catch mature cuttlefish and
are considered to be more sustainable methods of fishing.
Squid are caught as by-catch of many towed gear fisheries but are targeted by jiggers off the
Algarve coast. This fishery has the potential to develop into an important and sustainable UK
fishery if local markets can be developed. The fact that the EU imports 60 per cent of its squid
consumption suggests that there is room for developing the market.
There is no MLS or TAC for either species.
Fish of the Day
45
5
Aquaculture
5.1
Introduction
Given the crisis facing many EU fisheries, fish farming is often seen to be the way forward.
FAO (1997) statistics show a growth in this freshwater and marine sector of around 10 per cent
a year since 1990, and this trend is set to continue. Total aquaculture production in Europe
beyond the EU in 1995 was 1.4 million tonnes, of which fin fish culture produced 779,000
tonnes and molluscs 626,000 tonnes (FEAP, 2000). It is believed that aquaculture will dominate
fish supplies by 2030.
Aquaculture in the UK is dominated by the intensive production of high-value species such as
Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). These species are
mainly produced at high stocking densities in intensive cage, tank or pond-based farming
systems. Atlantic salmon production increased globally by a staggering 1,236 per cent between
1984 and 1995, of which 65.2 per cent of farmed salmonids were from Europe. The cultivation
of a wide variety of other fin fish species is also under development: halibut, turbot and cod are
already in commercial production on a small scale and haddock is at an experimental stage.
Annual production of farmed salmon in the UK was estimated to be 126,686 tonnes in 1999.
5.2
The impacts of aquaculture
The extremely rapid growth of aquaculture since the 1970s has seen a corresponding
intensification of the methods used to rear fish. The sheer scale of aquaculture operations,
particularly in fin fish culture, raises very serious questions over the sustainability of the sector
and the impact it is having on the wider marine environment. A recent WWF report, Integrating
Biodiversity and EU Fisheries Policy (Heaps, 2000), showed that the environmental damage
being caused by some aquaculture sectors may already be significant and, in some cases, even
irreversible. By far the most pronounced environmental impacts associated with aquaculture in
EU waters are related to fin fish culture. These are caused by a combination of the scale of
production, techniques utilised in the husbandry, and the often enclosed nature of the
environment in which fish farming is done. Ross (2000) identified several important impacts in
the WWF-UK report:
1
Intensive production of artificially fed fish, often concentrated at high densities, results in
the release of a considerable amount of waste matter. This consists of solid organic matter
from uneaten feed and faeces and dissolved nutrients. It has been estimated that one salmon
farm produces the same amount of waste as a conurbation of 10,000 people. Many salmon
farms are located in relatively sheltered water, allowing solid waste matter to build up on
the seabed below fish cages. In intensively used or poorly located sites this can lead to the
accumulation of increasingly thick, black and anoxic sediments, anaerobic decay and the
release of ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide and methane. Such “soured” sites
experience deterioration in the health of the fish and, in extreme cases, have to be
abandoned. This effect can cause profound changes to the seabed ecology in the vicinity of
the farm site but may also lead to more subtle changes over a wider area. It has recently
been calculated that the projected figures for nutrients released from the Scottish salmon
production for 2000 were equivalent to sewage inputs for nitrogen of 3.2 million people and
for phosphorus of 9.4 million people (OSPAR, 2000).
46
Fish of the Day
These high levels of nutrient inputs and distortion of the nutrient balance affect the
abundance of microscopic plants (phytoplankton) that are at the base of marine
ecosystems and are clearly implicated in the increasing global occurrence of toxic algal
blooms (see Box 7). Toxic algal blooms may not only harm farmed fish species, but
also wild species in the vicinity, including bird and marine mammal populations, other
plants and humans (MacGarvin, 2000). Shellfisheries off the Scottish west coast have
already suffered extensive closures as a result of Amnesic and other forms of shellfish
poisoning that are caused by algal blooms.
2
Among the many problems associated with fish farms is their potential to act as vectors
for diseases and parasites. Sea lice that thrive in the farmed environment are now found
in increasing numbers on wild stocks of salmon and sea trout, and have proven to cause
significant deaths of young migrating salmon. The high density stocking of cultured
fish, movement of stocks from region to region, and their escape into the wild all lead to
a serious risk of contamination from farmed to wild fish. Aquaculture, and fin-fish
farming in particular, is characterised by the necessity for regular use of antibiotic and
other chemical treatments. These may subsequently exert toxic effects and/or ecological
change upon the wider marine environment, as well as human health. For example, the
widespread and sometimes frequent administration of antibiotics raises a number of
problems, including the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, with wider
implications for human health. In addition, sea lice are typically treated using a variety
of toxic pesticide treatments. These treatments are applied directly into the net pens or
via the feed, and are released into the marine environment where they can continue to
exert their toxic action on marine wildlife.
3
Chemical treatments (antifoulants) are also used in sea cage aquaculture to prevent the
growth of marine plants and animals on the nets. Copper-based antifoulants are in
widespread use, raising considerable concern about the chronic pollution caused by
constant leaching from the nets. Copper is acutely toxic to aquatic organisms, has
chronic effects at low concentrations, and tends to bioaccumulate in aquatic plants and
invertebrates.
4
There is also evidence to suggest that escaped captive-bred fish may be breeding with
wild stocks, affecting the genetic pool. Interbreeding is believed to be diluting the
survival and migratory instincts of the wild salmon. In the case of Atlantic salmon each
river in their range may be inhabited by one or more genetically distinct forms, with
attributes that are important for their survival. The spawning of farmed fish is likely to
result in a general mixing of the genetic base of wild salmon and the loss or dilution of
beneficial gene complexes. It is feared that this may reduce the productivity, diversity
and therefore the resilience of indigenous populations. The escape of fish from
aquaculture facilities is not uncommon.
5
The potential threat from escapes of farmed fish has been heightened by recent
experimental production of genetically modified fish. The most obvious danger arising
from the transmission of alien genes to wild fish is the changes in the physiology and
behaviour of wild species. Clearly the outcome of such an event would be highly
Fish of the Day
47
unpredictable. Ecological impacts are also unpredictable, but faster growing fish could
out-compete their wild counterparts for food or mates. Other artificially introduced
traits such as cold-tolerance could affect geographic distribution of the species with
profound ecological effects. At present, the farming of genetically modified fish has not
been given clearance in Europe. However, they may appear on the American market
very soon.
5.3
6
Although it may appear that aquaculture removes some of the catch pressure from wild
stocks, carnivorous species, such as salmon and trout, rely on fishmeal derived from so
called “industrial fisheries” which capture species found lower down the foodweb, such
as sandeels, sprat, capelin, blue whiting, Norway pout and horse mackerel. It has been
estimated that every kilogramme of farmed fish requires 3kg of wild fish (Staniford,
2001). Not only are these stocks typically poorly managed or over-exploited, they are
also a vital food source for many larger fish, marine mammals and seabirds. For
example, stocks of Norwegian blue whiting are now categorised by ICES as critical. It
is likely that there will be no quota for this species in 2002, which is a dramatic decline
given that the Norwegian fleet fished 1.4 million tonnes last year. Removing large
quantities of these fish may affect populations of these predators and may cause
significant reverberations throughout the foodweb. Add to this the energy requirements
of catching and transporting the feed-fish species, processing them into pellets and
transporting these to the industry, this emerges as both a nutritionally and energetically
inefficient way of producing fish compared to wild-caught fisheries.
7
The culture of a fish species in an area where it is not native means that any escape or
wild-spawning of farmed animals may result in the introduction or establishment of
alien species. This has occurred in the case of the Pacific oyster in UK waters and the
Atlantic salmon in Pacific North America. There is concern that such species may be
able to outcompete wild populations of other species which requires the same habitat or
food types.
8
In addition to the effects of emissions of pollutants, aquaculture operations can impact
on habitats and wildlife in a number of ways. Direct damage can occur through the
construction of facilities such as buildings and slip-ways onshore, while anchorages
have to be laid on the seabed for cage sites. Less obvious impacts can result from noise
disturbance from the constant presence of people, boat movements and deliveries and
the lighting of sites. All of these factors can have detrimental effects on local
populations of wildlife and their habitat.
Wild versus farmed species
Salmon and trout were once a major part of the staple diet of communities living on coasts and
estuaries. However, the dramatic decline in salmon riverine fisheries in the UK was first linked
to the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the concurrent increase in pollution. But further
declines are now associated with the increase in inappropriately-sited fish farms.
However, there is room for both salmon farming and the recovery of local salmon and sea trout
stocks. The return of the sea trout and salmon to the west coast would provide increased
employment, as would returning the lost angling revenues to hotels and businesses in the area.
48
Fish of the Day
The key to resolving the current dilemma is to relocate the salmon farms away from enclosed
bodies of water and river mouths where there is good water movement, preventing the build-up
of stagnant conditions. The quality of the meat of fish reared in cages which are sited in open
sea conditions, and subject to greater water movement, is also often considered to be better than
that of fish farmed in closed areas.
In addition, several important policy changes are required if the other impacts associated with
aquaculture are to be to significantly reduced. These include the introduction of precautionary
measures to minimise the impact of sea lice and other pathogens on wild fish populations, using
non-toxic control methods, and good husbandry. Recirculation systems, where there is control
over water quality and discharges, less intensive rearing, and the fallowing of sites are some of
the ideas being assessed to reduce the environmental impact of aquaculture. In addition, given
the risk of genetically contaminating wild stocks, the commercial production of genetically
modified fish should continue to be prohibited in Europe, and should be avoided by consumers.
Purely in terms of feeding, it is questionable whether the current cultivation of species, such as
salmon which are dependent on wild fish-based feed, can be considered to be truly sustainable.
If fish dependent species are to be produced, feed should be sourced from sustainably managed
stocks. Some forms of aquaculture could be considered to be more sustainable. Greater priority
should be given to the culture of non-fish dependent species. In addition, shellfish filter their
food directly from the sea and require no additional feeding, so they present a more nutritionally
efficient form of aquaculture. Unfortunately there is very little information to distinguish
whether products have been produced in a sustainable way.
Fish of the Day
49
6
General guidance
Many of us live in, near or visit cities, towns and villages that are connected in some way with
fishing and the sea. Support for our coastal communities and natural heritage is vital when it
comes to making the right choices about the fish we consume, and the environmental and social
issues associated with fishing.
Making the right decisions about which fish to choose is not necessarily an easy task. The case
studies in this report highlight the variety of fishing gear used to exploit commercial species
around the UK. To complicate the issue further, different types of gear may be used to catch the
same stock. Or one type may be sustainable in one area, but not in another. For example,
driftnets may have a limited impact on seabed communities but are often associated with bycatch of marine mammals such as the harbour porpoise. It is essential that they are placed in
areas away from large concentrations of these animals.
The consumer needs a wealth of information to make judgements about whether one particular
fish is sustainable or not. To help the situation, eco-labelling schemes, such as the one being
developed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), are now becoming available. However,
these schemes are fairly new and only a few fish have been labelled to date9. It is hoped that
certified products become more widely available to help the consumer to make the right
choices.
In the meantime, this report aims to provide some generic guidance to those consumers who
wish to play a part in ensuring a healthy marine ecosystem and a viable fishing industry in the
long term. Despite the tremendous variation between fisheries, fishing gear and locations, a
series of recurring themes can be seen throughout the case studies.
6.1
KEEPING INFORMED
A great deal of information is available about the fish we eat, the status of stocks, and the
environmental and social implications associated with catching fish. Taking an interest in
fisheries can help you make the right choices, and although perhaps time-consuming, it is
worthwhile. (In fact, the politics of fishing are fascinating and have far-reaching and global
effects: the consequences of the cod war between the UK and Iceland in the 1970s, for
example.)
9
The Marine Stewardship Council provides a set of standards for ‘sustainable and well managed’ fisheries. Fisheries
are assessed by an independent certifier and if they meet the requirements they are provided with a logo. Several smallscale inshore fisheries in the UK are in the process of being certified by the MSC. The Thames herring fishery was the
first UK fishery to be certified in March 2000.
50
Fish of the Day
Many useful websites can help to keep you up to date with the issues. Some are given below:
Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture
European Commission
International Council for the Exploration of the Seas
Marine Conservation Society
Marine Stewardship Council
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food
National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations
Seafish Industry Authority
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation
Shellfish Association of Great Britain
US Environment Protection Agency
WWF North-east Atlantic programme
WWF-UK
WWF Endangered Seas Campaign
Fishing News
www.cefas.co.uk
www.europa.eu.int
www.ices.dk/fish/fish.htm
www.mcsuk.org
www.msc.org
www.maff.gov.uk
www.nffo.org.uk
www.seafish.co.uk
www.sff.co.uk
www.shellfish.org.uk
www.epa.gov/ost/fish
www.wwfneap.org
www.wwf-uk.org
www.panda.org
www.fishingnews.co.uk
Finding information should not, of course, be the sole responsibility of the consumer. While
many supermarkets are now supporting labelling schemes, they must also provide more in-store
information about the fish products on sale: where and how the fish was caught, minimum
landing sizes, total allowable catches, and whether the fish is from a wild or farmed source. All
this could help us make more informed decisions. Not only could supermarkets do more to
inform customers about what they are buying, but they could also promote those species which
are either less popular and which are in season. It is important to keep asking questions.
Although your retailer may not know the answers, consumer concerns eventually translate into
supplier action.
6.2
INCREASE THE VARIETY OF SPECIES THAT YOU EAT
The fish you see in the shops are dominated by just a handful of species – but as this report has
shown, there is a tremendous variety available from local and UK fisheries. In fact, there are a
sufficient number of fish species caught around the UK to vary your dish every week of the
year. So consider buying something different. This not only creates a market demand for less
popular species, but can also reduce the pressure on the most popular species. Increasing the
demand for certain species caught as by-catch, such as dab, would also reduce the significant
wastage associated with discarding less profitable species. Less well known species such as
saithe (coley), pollack and ling also make good alternatives to cod. In addition, some species
have simply become less fashionable: herring, for example, was once an important part of our
diet, but not any more. It has maintained its popularity in some parts of Europe and could
become an important part of the UK diet again.
Fish of the Day
51
6.3
MAKE SURE YOU ADHERE TO THE SIZE REGULATIONS
Most commercial species have legal minimum landing sizes set by the European Commission
under the Common Fisheries Policy. Even so, there is an increasing trend for fish to “fit” onto
the dinner plate. This demand is driving the industry to catch younger and smaller fish before
they have reached maturity and reproduced. The use of smaller meshes may also increase the
level of by-catch and discarding of undersized or unwanted species, a highly wasteful process.
This has an extremely negative effect on our fish stocks and the wider marine environment.
Being informed about the minimum landing size or the size at maturity of your favourite fish
can ensure that you are supporting the legal trade. You may also wish to follow the example of
some fishermen and fisheries organisations by being more cautious. The EU has not set any
minimum landing sizes for skates and rays, for example. But because of the serious threat in the
Irish Sea to the stocks of these species, the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee introduced a
bylaw in 1997 which prohibits the capture of any skate or ray measuring less than 45cm
between the extreme tips of the wings, or any wing which measures less than 22cm on its
maximum dimension.
Unfortunately, the minimum landing sizes for some species were removed and others were
reduced by the European Commission at the beginning of 2000 (see Table 4). The National
Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations recommended that its members adhere to the sizes that
were in place prior to the changes. This means retaining size limits for some species and
sticking to larger sizes for others (Table 4). There is no difference in the taste of a small or large
cod, plaice or haddock, so don’t buy fish labelled as “baby”. The minimum landing sizes for the
main commercial species caught by the UK fleet are included in Annex 2.
TABLE 4
Changes in minimum landing sizes set by the European Union
52
Species
Prior to 1.1.2000
After 1.1.2000
Turbot
30 cm
none
Lemon Sole
25 cm
none
Brill
30 cm
none
Dab
15 cm (23cm in North Sea)
none
Flounder
25 cm
none
Hake
30 cm
27 cm
Witch Flounder
28 cm
none
Megrim
25 cm
20 cm
Red Mullet
15 cm
none
Red Seabream
25 cm
none
Black Seabream
23 cm
none
Shad
30 cm
none
Fish of the Day
6.4
CHOOSE FISH CAUGHT BY MORE SUSTAINABLE FISHING GEAR
Ask your fishmonger how your fish was caught. The case studies have shown that fishing
techniques can make a real difference, both to the quality of the product and to the environment.
Fishing gear such as gill nets and bottom trawls are known to take a significant number of nontarget fish and other marine wildlife, for example, and can therefore be wasteful and damaging.
Other types of gear, such as hydraulic dredges and beam trawls, are a problem for certain fragile
seabed habitats and the associated marine life that can be dug up, dislodged and damaged. These
issues are being tackled by developments in gear technology, by restricting the use of certain
techniques in some areas, and by allowing areas to recover. Some success has been achieved
with pingers – devices attached to static nets which emit sounds to deflect marine mammals.
The use of new and more selective types of fishing gear is critical if the industry is to reduce the
extreme wastage and damage associated with other types. The case studies have shown that
many of the more traditional techniques such as using creels, handlines and traps, have
significantly less environmental impact than other methods. The scale of fishery is also an
important factor and these less intensive techniques tend to target fewer but bigger fish. Traps
can allow smaller fish or by-catch to be released alive back into the water, provided they are
well maintained.
The uptake of new, more selective types of gear can be expensive, however, and requires a
period of testing. Although some support may be available from the government, industry must
contribute 80 per cent of the costs. WWF’s recent Choose or Lose report showed the necessity
of ensuring that more money is made available by the government and the European
Commission to ensure that more selective types of gear are investigated fully and to help
fishermen take them on board. Ask your retailer to indicate, where possible, how the fish was
caught.
6.5
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL INDUSTRY
Buying something typical of the locality is a holiday tradition for many people. Many “exotic”
species eaten by holidaymakers abroad are actually native to our own waters. It is easy to forget
that locally caught fish is an option at home. Buying these fish will not only support industries
right on your doorstep, but should also ensure that you get a fresher product. In general,
independent fishmongers may be more informed about what you are buying than some
supermarkets.
6.6
SOME SPECIES TO AVOID IN THE SHORT TERM
Although it is necessary to vary your dish and try some of the less well-known species, there are
some species which should be avoided until they are managed in a more sustainable way. Those
taking years to reach maturity and which do not produce many young, such as many species of
shark, rays and deep sea fish, are particularly vulnerable to overfishing.
The common skate (Raja batis) is extremely vulnerable to accidental entanglement in trawl nets
because of its large flat shape. North Sea and Irish Sea stocks of common skate have now
almost disappeared and it is recommended that you generally do not consume this species.
While recovery plans for skates and rays are being formulated, fisheries management
Fish of the Day
53
organisations such as the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee have set a strict minimum
landing size, where the longest edge of the wing must be 22cm. If you are buying skates and
rays, make sure that these are sourced from better managed stocks, and that the fish at least
meets this size limitation.
Given the controversy over deep sea species, and the lack of information on these stocks, WWF
recommends avoiding orange roughy until appropriate management measures are put in place.
In some parts of the UK, female lobsters carrying eggs are marked with a small triangular notch
(see 4.7.1). Support this v-notching scheme by refusing lobsters marked in this way, and by
complaining if you are served these lobsters in a restaurant.
6.7
CHOOSE FARMED PRODUCE CAREFULLY
Over the past 30 years, aquaculture has increasingly supplemented sales of wild-caught produce
and has opened up new markets. However, the vast increase in intensive fish farms around the
UK has brought with it an increase in environmental problems. The use of potentially toxic
pesticides and antifoulants, as well as antibiotics (therapeutants), has had severe impacts on the
wider marine environment in some areas. Aquaculture also has an effect on wild populations of
fish. Escapes from some fin fish farms has spread disease and caused the genetic contamination
of wild stocks. Not only that, but huge amounts of feed from wild sources are also required in
the culture of carnivorous fin fish such as salmon and trout.
There is a long way to go before some types of aquaculture are considered to be sustainable.
New legislation and guidelines are needed to ensure that existing practices are sustainable.
There is also a need to significantly reduce the amount of chemicals and therapeutants used, and
to site fish farms in open sea areas. In the meantime, opt for shellfish and non-carnivorous
species, particularly those that are ranched in open sea conditions. These are better alternatives
to the more intensive and high impact aquaculture systems associated with many carnivorous fin
fish farms such as salmon and trout. Supermarkets should provide more in-store information on
the source of farmed fish. If you opt for salmon, ask your retailer whether it has been farmed in
open sea conditions.
54
Fish of the Day
References
Anon (1999). ‘The future is Scallop Shaped’. Fish Farmer, September/October 1999.
Anon (2001). Fishing News press release, 27 March 2001
Page: 55
Bannister, C. (2001). Dr. Walne Memorial Lecture ‘A review of Shellfish Resources
and their Management’ CEFAS website
CEFAS (1999). Saving North Sea Herring. CEFAS report,
www.cefas.co.uk/fisheries/Nsherring.htm.
Christensen, J. (1977). Fishes of the British and Northern European Seas. Gyldenal press.
Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee (1999). Employment survey report.
Donnelly, C.J.(1999). Exploitation and Management of the Deep-water Fisheries to the West
of Scotland. Report for the Marine Conservation Society.
FAO (1997). Review of the state of world aquaculture. FAO fisheries circular, No. 886, Rev.
1. FAO, Rome. 163 pp.
FAO (2000). The state of world fisheries and aquaculture. Part 1. World Review of Fisheries
and Aquaculture.
FEAP (2000). Aquaculture website of the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers.
Country Statistics. www.feap.org/Countries/countries.html.
Heaps, L.M. (2000). Integrating biodiversity and EU fisheries policy: rebuilding healthy
and productive ecosystems. WWF-UK Report, 2000, 134pp.
MacGarvin, M. (2000). Scotland’s secret? Aquaculture, nutrient pollution eutrophication
and toxic blooms. A report for WWF Scotland. 21 pp.
MacGarvin, M. & Jones, S. (2000). Choose or Lose : A recovery plan for fish stocks
and the UK fishing industry. WWF-UK ORCA Report. 68 pp.
MAFF (1999a). UK sea fisheries statistics for 1998. The Stationery Office, MAFF
MAFF (1999b). Statistics of fish landings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by port :
Annual figures for 1998. The Stationery Office, MAFF. 34pp.
MAFF (2000). Final quota report for Area VII VIII IX X COPACE. The Stationery Office,
MAFF.
Morgan, A. (1994). The market for demersal fish in the UK: An overview. From SFIA
Conference proceedings ‘Catching for the market: making the most of our whitefish’.
Fish of the Day
55
OSPAR (2000). Quality Status Report 2000 for the North-east Atlantic. OSPAR Secretariat.
www.ospar.org/eng/html/welcome.html
Ross, A. (2000). Aquaculture in Europe and its impacts on biodiversity. In: Integrating
biodiversity and EU fisheries policy: rebuilding healthy and productive ecosystems. WWF-UK
Report, 2000, 134pp.
Sea Fish Industry Authority (1999). Major market trends including the impact of imports
and the competitive edge of domestic landings. 43pp.
Sea Fish Industry Authority (2000a). 1999 UK fish industry annual statistics. 28 pp.
Sea Fish Industry Authority (2000b). 1999 UK fish catering sector handbook. 24 pp.
Sea Fish Industry Authority (2000c). 2000 survey of the UK Sea Fish Processing Industry.
Staniford, D. (2001). The one that got away: Marine salmon farming in scotland.
FoE Report, 47 pp.
Wigan, M. (1998) The Last of the Hunter Gatherers. Swan Hill Press
Winnard, K & Banks, R (1999) Fishermen’s Handbook. Seafish
56
Fish of the Day
Annex 1: ICES Fishing Areas around the UK
(Source SFIA, 1994)
Fish of the Day
57
Annex 2: Information concerning the major
commercial species caught around the UK
BENTHIC AND DEMERSAL SPECIES
Common
name
Latin name
EU fleet
TAC
UK
fleet
quota
Percentage of
the UK quota
to EU TAC
Minimum
landing sizes
Cod
Gadhus morhua
893,100
32,758
4
35cm
Haddock
Melanogrammus
90,900
55,016
61
30cm
21,950
3,360
15
30cm
16,654
1,778
11
aeglefinus
Pollack
Pollachius
pollachius
Northern
prawn
Ling
Molva molva
Greenland
205
63cm
29,640
262
1
halibut
Saithe
Pollachius virens
101,600
11,851
12
Dab
Limanda limanda
27,060
2,330
9
Redfish
Sebastes spp.
100,000
1,683
2
Whiting
Merlangius
66,290
18,700
28
27cm
31,523
2,660
8
27cm
4,848
3,128
65
35cm
merlangus
Hake
Merluccius
merluccius
Skates and
rays
Sole
Solea vulgaris
35,690
2,725
8
Anglerfish
Lophius piscatorius
54,130
17,370
32
Turbot
Psetta maxima
7,200
1,110
15
Megrim
Lepidorhombus
28,860
6,120
21
20cm
Plaice
Pleuronectes
102,445
25,640
25
22cm
24cm
platessa
Lemon sole
Microstomus kitt
10,800
6,580
61
Norwegian
Nephrops
56,140
30,680
55
lobster
norvegicus
Total length
70mm, carapace10
length 20mm
10
From the back of the eye socket to the first joint on its body.
58
Fish of the Day
PELAGIC SPECIES
Common
name
Mackerel
Latin name
Scomber scombrus
EU fleet
TAC
1,191,910
UK
fleet
quota
199,649
Minimum
landing
sizes
Percentage of
the UK quota
to EU TAC
17
Whole area except
North Sea 20cm;
North Sea 30cm
Horse
Trachurus
mackerel
trachurus
Herring
Clupea harengus
368,000
27,810
8
15cm
3,112,660
86,923
3
20cm
INDUSTRIAL SPECIES
Common
name
Sprat
Blue whiting
Norway pout
Sandeel
Latin name
Sprattus sprattus
Gadus poutassou
Trisopterus
esmarkii
Ammodytes spp.
EU fleet
TAC
UK
fleet
quota
Minimum
landing
sizes
Percentage of
the UK quota
to EU TAC
1,714,000
578,500
211,200
14,650
64,661
2,500
0.85
11
1
1,020,000
27,500
3
The size of any fish should be measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail fin.
Fish of the Day
59