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It’s bad news for haddock, but American lobster claws its way up the latest seafood ratings lists

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Takeaway favourite from North Sea and west of Scotland area no longer the best partner for chips

The latest seafood ratings on the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Good Fish Guide website have seen three haddock fisheries in the North Sea and West of Scotland area downgraded, due to a change in scientific advice, meaning it is no longer on the charity’s recommended green list of fish to eat.

Haddock is a popular choice with seafood consumers and a favourite at the chip shop. It’s one of the UK’s “Big 5” fish species along with cod, tuna, salmon and prawns.

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).

Bernadette Clarke is the MCS Good Fish Guide Manager: “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.”

The Marine Conservation Society has updated its comprehensive set of advice on the website www.goodfishguide.org, and although fisheries for haddock are doing less well than in previous years, other seafood choices are looking more positive.

Nephrops, commonly known as scampi, from Farn Deeps fishery has been re-rated from a 5 (Fish to Avoid) to a 4, in recognition of improved management – and although it’s some way off being sustainable, it’s a step in the right direction. There were also improvements for scampi fisheries in the west of Scotland, Clyde and Jura catch areas.

The Guide includes new ratings from further afield. American lobster (Homarus americanus) caught on the Canadian side of the Atlantic and in the Northeast US (Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank fisheries) has become more common and clawed its way into UK supermarkets at Christmas. “Remember to choose fish from Marine Stewardship Council certified fisheries when choosing American lobster (green rated 2),” says Bernadette Clarke, “These generally implement stronger management methods to protect the stocks, habitat and to avoid the bycatch of endangered species.”

Squid, often called calamari on the menu, has been experiencing mixed fortunes globally. Populations appear to be increasing in the North Sea, but the Argentine shortfin squid – the second biggest squid fishery in the world – has seen huge decreases in landings and 2016 prices increased by 30% compared to the end 2015. Although squid are a fast growing species and an important predator and prey species, they’re also very sensitive to environmental changes and these global swings in squid populations could be down to El Niño which this year has had a real impact on ocean temperatures. MCS says that, going forward, squid must be monitored and the level of fishing adapted appropriate to the population sizes in any specific year.

As a group, tuna are one of the UK’s five most popular fish to eat, and the UK is the second-largest importer of tuna in the world. The variety available makes choosing tuna complicated, and the level of detail given on the Good Fish Guide enables the consumer to make a sustainable choice.

Yellowfin from the Indian Ocean is a major source of tuna for the UK, mainly sold as fresh or chilled steaks. But the stock is overfished and not well managed. Red ratings remain for longline, purse seine and gill net fisheries. Even with commitments to recover the stock, levels are not expected to recover the fishery to sustainable levels within ten years.

However, it is good news for North Atlantic albacore. The longline and pelagic trawl fisheries for this stock have improved from a 4 to a 3 and a 3 to a 2 for troll and pole & line fisheries. New stock assessments have revealed the population has recovered to a healthy level after previously being overfished. South Atlantic albacore has also seen similar improvements.

Bigeye tuna in the East Pacific Ocean, on the other hand, has been downgraded from a 3 to a 4 for the purse seine and longline fisheries because the stock is now in an overfished state.

To get the complete picture when it comes to seafood ratings, visit www.goodfishguide.org, download the App on iphone or android, or pick up a printed pocket version from MCS.

MCS sustainable seafood work is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery says: “It is great to see a whole range of resources giving people the power to make their own choices on which seafood to eat. However you access it, the Good Fish Guide gives instant advice on what to eat and how to cook it, whether you’re shopping for the family in the supermarket or looking for a place to eat out. I’m delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are able to support this initiative.”

For more information about the Marine Conservation Society visit www.mcsuk.org.

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: SurfEars 3.0

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Back in 2019 I was at a really low ebb. I had just been told that I could not dive anymore due to recurrent ear infections causing perforations that eventually would lead to permanent damage. I got home from the hospital, slumped on the sofa, and the phone rang. It was Steve Warren from INON UK and I told him my woes. Don’t give up yet, he told me, I think I have just the people to help – SurfEars.

I tried to argue that wearing ear plugs whilst diving was not safe. What about equalization? But he stopped me in my tracks and said that these would work, he had tried them already on several dives. Could this be the answer that would save my diving career and allow me to continue my passion? Well the short answer is yes!

I wrote a review back then which you can read here: https://www.scubaverse.com/gear-review-surfears/

However, I am not sure that I stressed enough at the time that these earplugs saved me. They allowed me to dive, swim and snorkel in the ocean, and I have not had an ear infection since.

Recently the team at SurfEars sent me the latest design – SurfEars 3.0 – to try out. The earplugs come in a really handy pod that I clip to my BCD so that I do not forget them. They come with a range of plug sizes so you can customise them for a perfect fit. The ‘wing’ tucks into your ear, holding the earplug securely, so you feel they will be secure even when rolling or striding off the boat into the water. You can even use them even when putting on a hood in cold water.

The SurfEars allow you to still be able to hear clearly, as they allow air and sound to travel through, and just prevent water ingress, so safety in hearing instructions from the boat or your buddy is not compromised.

I find that wearing them has not only completely stopped any ear infections, but also makes equalization easier too. They are so comfortable that I never really notice that they are in.

If you suffer from ear infections from diving, then do give these a try. They are the first thing on my packing list now!

For more information visit https://surfears.com/

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News

Top Diving Destinations #5 – The Coral Sea

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The Coral Sea in Australia is one of the most remote scuba diving locations in the world. Only a few liveaboards will take you to this spectacular coral reef – and only during certain times of the year. The basically vertical reef walls come up from 2000 meters of depth in the middle of nowhere. This combination of extreme remoteness and difficulty to get there with very deep water surrounding the coral reefs of the Coral Sea offers perfect conditions for mind blowing underwater adventures.


For more about Matthias visit his social media channels:

Visit www.matthiaslebo.com for more!

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