North Atlantic cod taken off ‘red list’ is “good news” for Suffolk fisherman

Felixstowe Ferry fisherman, James White

Felixstowe Ferry fisherman, James White - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk fisherman has said he is ‘pleased but not surprised’ that North Sea cod has been taken off a red list of fish to avoid eating.

James White, a Felixtowe Ferry fisherman, said it had long since been the opinion among Suffolk fisherman that cod stock did not justify being on the endangered list.

“It’s good from the public outlook but we have always been of the standing that there isn’t anything wrong with the cod stock,” said Mr White. “From a fisherman’s point of view it’s good news because it takes away the black area over the species for marketing purposes.

“It won’t make a lot of difference because we still haven’t got the quota to catch them, apart from the price may go up with more demand.”

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) took North Sea cod off red status last week with the ailing fishery beginning to show signs of recovery.

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The fishery, which collapsed in the 1980s as a result of overfishing, has risen above dangerously low levels for the first time after years of reduced fishing and efforts to avoid catching cod in mixed fisheries.

The MCS has raised cod to an amber rating recommending it should be eaten only very occasionally.

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But the conservation group warned cod may never return to its pre-collapse glory days and more effort was needed to boost its populations to healthy levels.

MCS fisheries officer Samuel Stone said: “It’s fantastic to see this fishery finally off the red list. Years of sacrifice and a lot of hard work have led to population increases above dangerously low levels.

“Whilst this is certainly is a milestone for North Sea cod, the job is not done yet.

“Efforts of recent years need to continue in order of for the fishery to head towards the green end of the spectrum.”

Cod fisheries in the North East Atlantic remain red-listed by the MCS, including those fished from the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, and west of Scotland.

Cod is now the country’s most imported species, with most coming from the northeast Arctic and Iceland where fisheries are doing well.

The MCS is urging consumers to ask where their cod is from and businesses to check their supply chains to avoid red listed fish.

The latest update of the FishOnline website warns that all wild caught sea bass and Whiting from the Irish Sea are now on the fish to avoid list as the fishery faces collapse.

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