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New Good Fish Guide ratings spell trouble for trawled cuttlefish

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The latest update of the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Good Fish Guide sees cuttlefish, trawl caught from the English Channel, join the marine charity’s ‘Fish to Avoid’ list, ringing alarm bells for the future health of the enigmatic species in UK waters.

Assessing what species are caught using which method and where, the Good Fish Guide provides a traffic light system to illustrate the health of the UK’s commercial fish populations. Red rated stocks join the charity’s ‘Fish to Avoid’ list, whilst green rated are the most sustainable options and considered the ‘Best Choice’.

Cuttlefish are one of the most intelligent invertebrates, with a large brain allowing them to learn and remember. Recently, the mollusc was even found to eat less during the day if their favourite meal is on offer in the evening. A chameleon of the sea, cuttlefish are also able to change colour to blend in with their surroundings, despite being colour blind themselves. When they feel threatened cuttlefish produce clouds of ink. This ink, alongside the cuttlefish’s staggering increase in commercial value, is what gives them the nickname ‘black gold’.

Charlotte Coombes, Good Fish Guide Manager: “Between 2008 and 2017, catches of cuttlefish more than doubled. Additionally, numbers of cuttlefish reported in 2017 could be the lowest on record. The dramatic increase in catches, alongside several reports identifying a rapid decline in cuttlefish populations in the English Channel, has led to a red rating in the update to the Good Fish Guide.”

The dramatic growth in cuttlefish catches over the last decade has been fuelled by a huge increase in the value of cuttlefish – which has more than doubled from around £1.50 per kilo in 2008 to around £3.60 per kilo in 2017.  In fact, landings into the UK in 2018 were worth a staggering £14.9 million.  While much of what the UK catches is exported to other countries in Europe, there’s growing interest in the UK due to its similarity in taste to squid, and it may well start to appear more on local restaurant menus in the near future.

Shockingly, given the scale of the fishery, there are currently no catch limits in place, no restrictions on where or when these animals can be caught, no minimum size limits, and no plans to make sure that populations stay at sustainable levels. These factors contribute to MCS adding trawled English Channel cuttlefish to its ‘Fish to Avoid’ list. Of real concern is the fact that the vast majority (over 90%) of the cuttlefish that are being caught haven’t yet had the chance to breed. They’re caught in trawls, offshore, before they can come inshore to lay their eggs. Some forms of bottom trawling can also cause significant habitat damage, affecting not only cuttlefish but seabed habitats and other marine animals which call the English Channel home. If too many cuttlefish are removed before they can breed, the population will really struggle to sustain itself.

Coombes continues: “MCS urgently wants to see management keeping up with the growth of this fishery to protect cuttlefish during their spawning season, and to ensure the population can stay healthy from one year to the next.”

A smaller proportion of cuttlefish are caught inshore, in pots and traps, when they come inshore to breed. While some of these pots will catch the fish before they can breed, others will catch them right at the end of their lives, after they’ve bred, making for a much more sustainable fishing model. Pots and traps have a low impact on the seabed and other species, and there are more management measures to control inshore fishing in some areas, meaning more opportunity to control catch numbers. These fisheries are rated 4, so whilst not a ‘Fish to Avoid’, it is recommended that people seek alternatives where possible.

Other movements in the Good Fish Guide include:

  • Brown crab, caught in creels (pots) around Shetland, has bounced back following a reduction in fishing pressure and tighter control rules on harvesting and is now green rated by MCS, joining the ‘Best Choice’ list
  • Non-certified pole & line-caught skipjack tuna from the Indian Ocean has moved off the Best Choice list and is now amber rated by MCS
  • Atlantic wolffish in Iceland has moved off the ‘Fish to Avoid’ list and is now amber rated
  • Queen scallops from the Isle of Man are now red rated and all populations caught around the Isle of Man are ‘Fish to Avoid’

Trawl caught cuttlefish and Isle of Man queen scallop now join wild Atlantic halibut, European eel, and several fisheries for cod on MCS’s Red Rated list. Due to fishing pressure, habitat damage and diminishing numbers, urgent action is required to recover these populations to healthy levels. Take the pledge and ‘Say No to Red Rated’ at www.mcsuk.org/red-rated

You can download the Good Fish Guide app, visit the Guide via the MCS website or grab the Pocket Good Fish Guide to ensure that you’re making the most sustainable seafood choices possible.

Gear News

Gear Maintenance Episode 4: Backplate and Harness Sponsored by Dive Rite (Watch Video)

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Welcome to Gear Maintenance! In this episode I’m showing you how to bring an old, tattered backplate and harness back to life and giving you tips on how you can look after your scuba diving gear.

If you want to support Divers Ready! (for free!) support our sponsor for this series of videos: Dive Rite

To enter to win the XT Lite Backplate and Basic Harness from Dive Rite, you need to:

  1. Subscribe to Divers Ready! if you haven’t already: https://www.youtube.com/c/diversready?sub_confirmation=1
  1. Enter the contest here: https://gleam.io/pncFv/dive-rite-xt-lite-backplate-and-harness-giveaway

When a scuba diver switches from a jacket BCD to a Backplate, Harness and Wing system, it can be very hard to switch back! We’ve packed this video full of hints and tips covering storage, protection, cleaning and maintenance to help you protect the investment you’ve made in your dive equipment.

Good luck to everyone! D.S.D.O James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Equipment

Liquid Sports announce NEW colours of Hollis F1 LT Fin now in stock

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Liquid Sports has announced that the NEW Colours of the Hollis F1 LT fin are now in stock at LS warehouse and ready to ship.

Already available in Grey, the NEW White & Yellow Hollis F1 LT fins have the following features:

• Short blade for easier finning in confined spaces
• Angled strap mounts for comfort & a better transition of power
• Spring heel straps with easy-grip heel tab
• Multiple strap mounting positions for a fine tuned fit
• Vented blade reduces stress while accelerating water over blade
• Generous foot pocket

F1 LT Yellow RRP £139.95 – Product code: 214.2207.xx 

F1 LT White RRP £139.95 – Product code: 214.2211.xx 

For more information visit the Liquid Sports website by clicking here.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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