The Marine Conservation Society has not changed its advice on North Sea cod in the latest version of its sustainable seafood guide – fish caught in that area should remain firmly off the menu, despite an encouraging rise in stocks.
MCS says that according to the latest data from ICES (The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea), North Sea cod stocks are only slightly above what are considered safe levels for the species, despite a decrease in the amount fished.
MCS Fisheries Officer, Bernadette Clarke, says: “The efforts of fishers and managers have placed cod in the North Sea on the road to recovery. Programmes such as the Conservation Credits Scheme – which rewards fishermen for adopting conservation measures with additional days at sea – together with more effective long-term management plans will hopefully see the fishery continue to recover in the coming years. Our advice remains to seek alternatives to North Sea cod. There are more sustainable cod fisheries that we currently rate as Fish to Eat.”
With cod still one of the top five favourite species of fish to eat in the UK, MCS suggests consumers continue to use the Fishonline website to find alternative fish to eat. If it must be cod on your plate, then look out for cod from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries in the northeast Arctic, Iceland or Eastern Baltic which feature on the Fish to Eat list.
Some other species have moved onto the Fish to Eat list, meaning they can be eaten in the knowledge that they are from sustainable stocks. Haddock from Iceland and coley both move onto the list, as does herring, pelagic trawled in the Irish Sea.
Trawled and gillnet caught seabass are both rated 5 on the MCS Fish to Avoid list – the lowest rating possible, whilst seabass caught by handline is now rated as a fish to eat occasionally, and remains the most selective and sustainable fishery for wild-caught fish. But you can find guilt-free seabass – UK seabass, farmed in land-based tanks is on the Fish to Eat List and rated 1 – the most sustainable choice for this tasty fish.
Monkfish remains a fish to eat occasionally because although fishing efforts in the North Sea and the West of Scotland is reducing, stocks are declining and there are few appropriate management measures in the fisheries for this species.
For those who like scallops, six King scallop fisheries appear in Fishonline for the first time, with those from the MSC certified fishery in Shetland the best choice.
MCS says it’s vital that the public, chefs, retailers and fish buyers keep referring to the Fishonline website, the Pocket Good Fish Guide or the app version on iPhone or android, to ensure they have the most up-to-date sustainable seafood advice.
Jeff chats to… Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust about the Big Shark Pledge (Watch Video)
The Big Shark Pledge aims to build one of the biggest campaigning communities in the history of shark conservation. To put pressure on governments and fisheries. And make the positive changes required to safeguard awesome sharks and rays.
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
Marine Conservation Society to take legal action over ocean sewage spills
The Marine Conservation Society is announcing joining as co-claimant in a legal case against the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to protect English seas from sewage dumping.
The legal case seeks to compel the Government to rewrite its Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan 2022, impose tighter deadlines on water companies and redevelop the Plan to effectively apply to coastal waters which are, currently, almost entirely excluded.
Sandy Luk, Marine Conservation Society CEO: “Untreated sewage is being pumped into our seas for hundreds of thousands of hours each year; putting people, planet and wildlife at risk.
We’ve tried tirelessly to influence the UK Government on what needs to be done, but their Plan to address this deluge of pollution entering our seas is still unacceptable. We owe it to our members, supporters and coastal communities to act, which is why we’ve joined as co-claimants on this case. We’re out of options. Our seas deserve better.”
Launched and funded by the Good Law Project, the Marine Conservation Society will stand as co-claimants on the case with Richard Haward’s Oysters, and surfer and activist, Hugo Tagholm.
Before reaching this point, the charity responded to a government consultation in March 2022 and met with DEFRA to express concern. In August 2022, the charity wrote an open letter to DEFRA outlining the ways in which the proposed Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan fails to protect the environment and public health from dumping raw sewage into the sea. However, the Plan hasn’t been amended and still fails to adequately address water companies’ excessive reliance on storm overflows and the harm their heavy use causes to our ocean.
The plan virtually excludes most coastal waters (except for bathing waters) either directly or indirectly, with some types of Marine Protected Areas and shellfish waters totally excluded. 600 storm overflows are not covered at all by the Plan and will continue to – completely legally – be able to dump uncontrolled amounts of sewage directly into English seas and beaches. What’s more, the Plan lacks all urgency – with long-term targets set for 2050, and the earliest, most urgent targets not to be met until 2035.
Meanwhile, Marine Conservation Society analysis finds that raw sewage is pouring into the ocean at an alarming rate. In total, there are at least 1,651 storm overflows within 1km of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in England. These overflows spilt untreated sewage 41,068 times in 2021. Of these, almost half the overflows spilt more than 10 times in 2021, with an average of 48 spills for each of those overflows. Overall, in 2021, sewage poured into Marine Protected Areas for a total of 263,654 hours.
According to DEFRA’s own latest assessments, only 19% of estuaries and and 45% of coastal waters are at ‘good ecological status’, with none meeting ‘good chemical status’, and three quarters (75%) of shellfish waters failing to meet water quality standards.
Rachel Wyatt, Policy & Advocacy Manager for Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society: “Untreated sewage contains a cocktail of bacteria, viruses, harmful chemicals, and microplastics. It’s nearly impossible to remove microplastics and ‘forever chemicals’ once in the environment. Due to their persistence, with every discharge, these pollutants will continue to increase, meaning eventually they will pass – or may have already passed – a threshold of harm.”
In addition, it’s not just invisible toxins that are causing problems. In September this year at the charity’s annual Great British Beach Clean, sewage related pollution, such as wet wipes and sanitary products, were found on 73% of the beaches surveyed across England.
A new DEFRA report, Ocean Literacy in England and Wales, shows that 85% of people say marine protection is personally important to them. Yet this is being ignored.
Emma Dearnaley, Legal Director at the Good Law Project, said: “The Marine Conservation Society is at the forefront of tackling the ocean emergency and standing up for coastal communities impacted by climate change and pollution. We are delighted to have them on board as a co-claimant.
“Good Law Project will work closely with the claimants, including the Marine Conservation Society, to put forward the case for more ambitious and urgent measures to reduce sewage discharges by water companies. These sewage spills are threatening human health, biodiverse marine life and the fishing industry. We believe that taking legal action now is vital to help safeguard our coastal waters for generations to come”.
If the case is won, the Marine Conservation Society hopes to see the UK Government amend its Plan so that it meets the DEFRA Secretary of State’s legal obligations to protect the ocean and its inhabitants from raw sewage spills.
For more visit the Marine Conservation Society website.
Header image credit: Natasha Ewins
WIN a c-monsta Wetsuit Hanger!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with c-monsta to give away one of their wetsuit hangers as a prize!...
WIN a Sharkskin Performance 40L Duffle Bag!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Sharkskin Performance 40L Duffle Bag as...
Win a Vasili Lights Fish Lantern!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with Vasili Lights to give away one of their beautiful Fish Lanterns! Inspired...
WIN a Beuchat Maxlux S Mask and Spy Snorkel!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away Maxlux S Mask and Spy Snorkel!...
News2 months ago
News3 days ago
Into the Blue – Part Two
Marine Life & Conservation3 weeks ago
Book Review: The Sea Lions of Los Islotes
News3 weeks ago
Into the Blue
News2 months ago
Deptherapy charity to close in August 2023
Winners - Underwater Photography Contests2 months ago
September 2022 Photo Contest Winner and Review
Winners - Underwater Videography Contests2 months ago
September 2022 Video Contest Winner and Review
News1 month ago
CMAS European Championship of Underwater Videography and Photography – Madeira, 2022