Grimsby can plug the haddock gap after sustainability warning

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Despite an expected shortage of haddock across the country, Grimsby can help plug the gap, the local fish merchants association believes.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) decided to downgrade the sustainability score of the species on March 17, taking three haddock fisheries in the North Sea and West of Scotland off the green list of ‘fish to eat’.

The popular choice with seafood consumers and a favourite at the chip shop is one of the UK’s ‘big 5’ fish species along with cod, tuna, salmon and prawns.

The two North Sea haddock fisheries are now rated 4 (amber), and the other has dropped from being a good choice (rated 2) to one to eat only occasionally (rated 3).

The Grimsby Fish Merchants Association does not believe this will impact Lincolnshire’s fish supply and that the county will even help to ‘plug’ any gaps that the announcement may create across the UK.

Simon Dwyer, a representative of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association, said: “What’s frustrating is when you read headlines saying there’s going to be no more fish and chip shops in the world.

“Most of the fish comes from Iceland and Norway and is a substantially long way away from where the MCS has said there’s an issue.

“So in real terms, as far as Grimsby and the multi-million pound industry that we have, which includes 3,000 direct jobs, we don’t see that there’s an issue going forward.

“If there are any gaps with the supplies in the North Sea, we are confident that we can actually plug those gaps.

“Our message is that there is haddock and sufficient amounts of it to meet demand and that it is a sustainable well managed stock as well.

“People should be eating fish twice a week and we envisage that there will be plenty of haddock in the fish and chip shops in the future.”

Fish and chip shops across Lincolnshire have also said that they won’t change menus or prices for the popular takeaway dinner.

Leslie Graves, Co-Owner of Burton Road Chippy in Lincoln which sources its fish from Grimsby, said: “I was speaking with a Scottish trawler-man this morning and he said at some times of year stocks are low, but they do regenerate.

“We are big on sustainability, but quite often these things get blown out of proportion and I have been assured that this is the case here.

“We have a sustainable sourcing policy, which our supplier is aware of and he will keep us up to date with the situation.

“We sell several different types of fish and by doing this, it helps to keep things more sustainable so that it’s not putting the pressure on one species.”

Bernadette Clarke, MCS Good Fish Guide Manager, said: “These ratings changes have come about because scientfic perception of the stock has changed.

“Compared to 2015, the stock numbers in 2016 were below the recommended level and at the point where action is now needed to increase the number of fish of breeding age.”