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A member of the cod family, Haddock is a popular fish cooked fresh or traditionally smoked.  The meat is firm and white, high in protein and low in fat.

Sustainability Overview

Haddock is a naturally fluctuating stock, which does better during colder winters. The latest ICES report shows that stocks are high but are declining and that fishing pressure is now above sustainable levels, and ICES are advising that fishing pressure should be reduced. Cornish boats often run out of haddock quota making this a choke species. Much effort is being made by demersal trawlers to be more selective and to avoid catching this species when necessary but it is difficult in our mixed trawl fisheries. Always avoid eating undersized fish (below 30 cm) and during their main breeding season in March and April. 

In 2021 424 tonnes of haddock were landed to Cornish ports with a total value of £830k (MMO data).

Updated July 2023

Sustainability ratings for this species

Gill Netting

Cornish waters VIIe, f, g and h

Gill nets are lightweight nets made of nylon (monofilament) fishing line that are anchored to the seabed and are used to catch fish by entangling the gills.

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Beam Trawling

Cornish waters VIIe, f, g and h

Beam trawls are nets with a steel beam that holds the net open. The belly of the net is made of chains and the upper surface of the net is mesh. Beam trawlers pull two nets along the seabed simultaneously.

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Demersal Trawl

Cornish waters VIIe, f, g and h

Demersal trawls are large nets that are pulled through the water with the bottom edge of the net touching the seabed. At each edge the net is pulled open by metal ‘trawl doors’. Sometimes referred to as Otter trawling.

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How we rate fish

Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.

1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.

We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.


Haddock prefer cool waters and during cold years their stocks do much better. It is a concern that climate change may affeect recruitment of haddock.
They can live for up to 20 years and can grow to one meter in length. Populations of haddock tend to fluctuate depending on varying numbers of young fish entering the population. As a consequence, haddock populations may be composed of a relatively small range of year classes. 
 According to Fishbase this species has moderate to high vulnerability to fishing pressure (55/100) which affects the stock score.

Stock Info

Haddock stocks are currently above sustianable levels (MSY) but are declining. High levels of discarding of juvenile and unwanted haddock make it hard to estimate effect of fishing on stock sizes, and Fishing pressure is above levels to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yeild (MSY), but below precautionary levels. Seafish ecological risk assessment score is 3/5 meaning that there is significant risk for this species. According to ICES fishing effort has reduced in recent years but it is still above levels needed for Maximum sustainable yield. Stock score for this species has changed in 2023 from 0 to 0.25 (out of 1).



This fishery is managed through the EU Common fisheries policy which sets a quota for this species each year. Despite this stocks don’t seem to be re building sufficiently for quotas to be increased despite current good recruitment years. There is no management plan for this species. EU and CIFCA min landing size 30cm.

Capture Info

Beam trawls are dragged along the seabed disturbing the sand and sediment, scooping up target species. In The South west beam trawling results in capture of a mixture of species and it is difficult to accurately target specific species without others being caught. The fishing gear used has an impact on seabed habitats particularly when used for the first time in an area. There is no problem with by catch of cetaceans and seals in this gear. 
Demersal trawls (otter trawls) are more commonly used to target haddock. Haddock is caught as part of a mixed fishery and it is difficult to avoid catching cod and whiting using this method. As both cod and whiting are in trouble in our area this reduces the capture method score for demersal trawling to a default 1 according to MCS Wild Capture Methodology.
Mesh sizes are set large to reduce unwanted capture of juvenile fish but this method does have problems with by-catch in some areas and times of year in a very mixed fishery. If a fisherman has run out of haddock quota it become difficult to continue to fish as avoiding catching haddock is very difficult and the temptation is to discard the unwanted haddock. According to ICES  81% (49% by weight) of the haddock catch was discarded in the last decade. With the new Common fisheries Policy discard ban this will prove a big problem unless haddock quotas increase.  


ICES advice Haddock Southern Celtic seas and English Channel 2023
Seafish RASS Haddock profile sheet 
Seafish Responsible Sourcing Guide Haddock 2013
Project Inshore
ERAEF SW, Seafish industry authority. 
MCS fish online
ICESS  Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries. STECF 2014 
Cheung, W.W.L., T.J. Pitcher and D. Pauly, 2005. A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate intrinsic extinction vulnerabilities of marine fishes to fishing. Biol. Conserv. 124:97-111

Recipes for Haddock

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