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  • World
    The Telegraph

    British cod, herring and whiting should be off the menu, study says

    British consumers should avoid fish and shellfish from our waters including all cod, and types of scallop and crab, a new report from a marine campaign group has found. NGO Oceana has assessed Britain's fishing stocks found that six in 10 of our most popular fish are overfished. It found that only 36 per cent of Britain's fish stocks were healthy, with many favourite species overfished and at risk of stock collapse. The group, which counts the Prime Minister's fiancée Carrie Symonds among its advisors, has called for the government to impose stricter catch limits on fish now we have left the EU so they can be enjoyed for years to come and not fished to oblivion. The EU and the UK recently entered talks to decide on catch limits for fish in our respective waters. Some fish, including herring, cod and whiting, should be banished altogether from our plates until stocks recover, marine experts added. A spokesperson for the charity explained: "The main problems occur for stocks for which scientists have recommended to close the fishery, like for herring in West of Scotland and West of Ireland, Herring in the Irish Sea and Celtic Sea, Cod in the West of Scotland, cod in the Celtic Sea and western English Channel, Whiting in West of Scotland, and whiting in the Irish Sea. Oceana cannot promote the consumption of these." The report, looking at Britain's 104 fish stocks, found that of the top 10, six are overfished or their stock biomass is at a critical level: North Sea herring, North East Atlantic blue whiting, North Sea whiting, Eastern English Channel scallops, North Sea cod, and Southern North Sea crab. It found that only three of the top 10 stocks upon which the UK fishing industry relies are healthy and sustainably exploited: North East Atlantic mackerel, North Sea haddock and West of Scotland Nephrops. “It is shocking to find that six out of 10 of the UK’s most important fish stocks are overfished or in a critical situation. This report provides clear evidence that setting catch limits higher than those recommended by scientists is causing stocks of some of the UK’s best-loved fish, like cod, to rapidly decline. Those currently taking part in negotiating catch limits for 2021 must set them in line with scientific advice and not push for continued overfishing”, said Melissa Moore, Oceana’s head of UK policy. Oceana is urging the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and all involved in the negotiations to set lower catch limits for fish, arguing that failing to do so will result in the fishing industry itself, as well as coastal communities and marine life, suffering in the long run. British favourite fish including scallops and crab are mostly off the menu, with some exceptions. The NGO said hand-dived scallops can be enjoyed in moderation, but none of the UK's populations have been found to be sustainably exploited. A Defra spokesperson said: “As an independent coastal state, we will manage our fisheries sustainably in a way that protects our precious marine and coastal environment, and enables our seafood sector and coastal communities to thrive. “The Government is committed to sustainable fishing, and our Fisheries Act enshrined that commitment in law with the introduction of our Fisheries Management Plans – which are legally binding plans for achieving sustainable fish stocks.”

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