North Sea cod returns to menus

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

North Sea cod: stocks finally improving
North Sea cod: stocks finally improving

Related tags: Overfishing

North Sea cod has been removed from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS)’s list of fish to avoid serving and eating.

The fish, which suffered severely depleting numbers throughout the 1980’s due to a mixture of environmental changes and continuous overfishing, was this week given an ‘amber rating’ meaning it was showing signs of improvement.

Samuel Stone, fisheries officer at the MCS, said: “Years of sacrifice and a lot of hard work have led to population increases above dangerously low levels.

“Whilst this certainly is a milestone for North Sea cod, the job is not done yet – efforts of recent years need to continue in order for the fishery to head towards the green end of the spectrum.”

Danger zone

However whilst North Sea cod is – for the moment – out of the danger zone, nine other North Atlantic cod varieties are still rated ‘red’ by the MCS, including Celtic Sea cod, Faroes Bank cod, Faroes Plateau cod, Irish Sea cod, Kattegat cod, Norwegian Coast cod, Rockall cod, West Scotland and West Baltic cod.

Fisheries officer:
The UK has played a major role in the overexploitation of many of these stocks 

Stone added: “The UK has played a major role in the overexploitation of many of these stocks. It must now do more to improve their status.”

Cod is currently the most imported species in the UK, representing 18.7% of fish imports.  The MCS suggested it should be eaten once a week.


Earlier this year, the PMA reported that the pub trade was failing to get behind a national campaign for sustainable seafood​ despite industry pleas for its support.

Out of 208 catering and hospitality businesses to publicly support the Sustainable Fish Cities campaign, which encourages the use and sale of sustainable fish rather than over-fished species, only four were pub operators.

However, a spokesperson for Sustainable Fish Cities said many pubs probably were already serving sustainable fish despite not supporting the campaign.

There are roughly 10,500 outlets serving fish & chips​ in the country, including pubs, with the British public estimated to consume approximately 382million portions of fish & chips a year.


In May, Fuller’s joined the Sustainable Seafood Coalition​ as its first new member since new fish sourcing and labelling codes were introduced in 2014.

And one month later, supplier Brakes was named UK Fish Supplier of the Year​ by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for the second year in a row. 

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