Much of Scottish crab and lobster are ‘fish to avoid’, says guide to sustainable seafood | Seafood


Crab and lobster have been classified as “fish to avoid” by the Marine Conservation Society in its new UK guide to sustainable seafooddue to concerns of whales becoming entangled in Scottish fishing gear.

Monkfish in the North Sea and west of Scotland, where populations have been at their lowest since 2013, also joined the guide’s ‘fish to avoid’ list, alongside most rays and rays . Stingrays and stingrays are in decline worldwide, with a third of species threatened with extinction due to overfishing.

The charity said its latest assessment of UK seafood showed the need for tighter management of UK seas, as well as revealing a glaring lack of data on fish and seafood stocks in the UK. Scottish waters.

Fourteen species of fish and seafood have joined the MCS’s “fish to avoid” list. Ten were added last year.

The MCS said the image was concerning as it “pointed in the wrong direction”.

“The latest Good Fish Guide ratings – where all new UK ratings are either orange or red – illustrate the urgent need for transparency and better management if we are to rebuild fish stocks in UK seas,” said Clara Johnston, head of fisheries policy at MCS.

Crab and lobster populations are suffering due to poor management in general. In the west of Scotland, however, there is particular concern that migrating whales are becoming tangled more frequently in ropes attached to crab and lobster traps. A study carried out last year by Nature Scotland found increasing entanglements of cetaceans, sharks and turtles in crab and lobster traps.

In Scotland, only Shetland limits the number of traps that fishermen can put in the water. Photography: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Reported entanglements were more likely to be minke whales or basking sharks, but 95% of entanglements went unreported, according to the study. The waters around Skye were the riskiest for interactions between trap fleets and whales.

Charlotte Coombes, MCS Good Fishing Guides Manager, explained: “The migrating whales are funneled between the mainland and the islands. Some evidence suggests that minke whales are not as strong swimmers as humpback whales, so minke whales are more affected.

Recent data suggests that 2.2% of the local population of minke minkes may be killed by entanglement each year.

Except in Shetland, there is no limit to the number of traps anglers can set in Scotland.

The decline of burbot in the North Sea and west of Scotland is also of concern, Coombes added. “There are catch limits and that helps. But the limits apply to a wider area, so there is room for the population to be taken in higher amounts than it can support.

Nine types of brown crab and Scotch lobster were categorized differently in this year’s guide: eight were either “fish to avoid” (or amber, depending on the MCS traffic light system), while only one, the Shetland brown crab, was rated as “best choice” (a green light).

There was good news: 10 types of fish and shellfish were now in the ‘best choice’ category, including sardines from the South West of England and herring from the North Sea.

There are 656 species ratings in total, of which 161 are now listed as ‘avoid’ and 148 as ‘best choice’.

The Future Fisheries Alliance, a coalition between MCS, WWF and RSPB, is calling for stronger fisheries management. She wants the current draft joint statement on fisheries, to be released at the end of the year, to include targets for rebuilding depleted fish populations through more effective management, a commitment to install remote electronic monitoring on ships and urgent action to combat bycatch of wild animals.

Fish to avoid (according to MCS)

  • Anglerfish from the North Sea and West of Scotland. The numbers fell from a peak in 2017 to the lowest level since 2013 (below the average of the past 16 years). The management is poor and the fishing pressure is too high. If you are desperate for monkfish, those caught in the Celtic Sea remain classified as an “OK choice”.

  • Cod from the Celtic Sea. The cod, whiting and haddock caught here are fished together as they swim and feed together. However, Celtic cod and whiting populations are at dangerously low levels, which consequently affects reproductive rates. Scientists recommend that cod should not be fished in this area at all.

  • Most brown crabs and lobsters. New ratings for Scottish Brown Crab and Lobster have been added to the Good Fish Guide this year. Eight of the nine new odds are either amber or fish to avoid. Shetland brown crab is the only ‘best choice’, a green rated option in the UK.
    Crab and lobster populations are suffering due to poor management, and in some areas there are fears that whales could get tangled in ropes attached to traps. It is hoped that if the fishing method is improved, it could become sustainable as it makes little difference to the seabed.

Best choice

  • Mackerel. Stocks have remained high, so the green rating remains for that.

  • Scampi and langoustine. These are graded orange if trawled, but green if caught by pot.

  • North Sea herring. Green again, as the steep population decline seen since 2017 has slowed and an updated stock assessment shows better numbers than previously thought.

  • Sardines from the Celtic South Sea and Channel. These have been moved from amber to green.

  • King and Queen Scallops from the Isle of Man. Showing improvements through good management. Sea scallops have been removed from the red list and are now classified as amber. Helen Horton

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