Cornwall Good Seafood Guide have this week updated their ratings following the winter ratings review and public consultation. There are some notable changes that businesses and consumers should be aware of.
First the good news!
Following publication by ICES (International Convention for Exploration of the Sea)of favorable stock assessments we now have three ray species on our recommended list. This is a first for Cornwall Good seafood guide- historically rays have been very poorly studied and poorly recorded in landings data which made it very hard to tell how sustainable these species were, however there have been notable improvements in survey data form the Celtic sea and Bristol Channel – i.e. areas 7f and g, off Cornwall’s North Coast meaning that thornback ray
and cuckoo ray
caught in gill nets, demersal trawls and beam trawls, and smalleyed ray
caught in demersal trawls in this area are now on our recommended list, being rated a 3.
We would urge caution when buying rays as they are usually sold skinned as ‘ray wings’- removing the skin makes it impossible for a consumer to tell what species they are buying so ideally please ask to see the ray before it is skinned and check what species it is from its markings.
Unfortunately, in areas 7 f and h (i.e. the off the south coast of Cornwall and the South West approaches) we have less data on many ray species so the only species from this area on our recommended list is the cuckoo ray.
Another major change is the inclusion for the first time of spurdog
shark on our recommended list. Since 2000 fishing for this species was prohibited as its population had become over fished, however scientific surveys (ICES) and reports from fishermen have shown that this once commercially important species has made a good recovery and is now abundant in our waters. A fishery for this species is now re opened and we are watching closely the measures being taken to ensure it doesn’t become overfished again. The good news is that it is now rated 3 meaning it is on our recommended list. There is now a maximum size of 100cm for this species meaning large sharks which are good at reproducing will be returned to the sea by fishers and survival rates are good for this species. Sharks are often marketed as 'rock salmon' be careful if offered this by a fish seller and ensure that the fish you are buying is definately spurdog as other species of shark are also marketed as rock salmon may well not be as sustainable.
What about Crab and lobster?
In light of concerns over the state of crab and lobster fisheries and the well-publicised need for improved management for these fisheries the management score for brown crab
has been downgraded from 0.5 to 0.75 reflecting the need for catch limits for these species. This resulted in no overall change to lobster ratings which are still 3 for pot caught lobster and 4 for net caught lobster. Cornwall IFCA and the MMO are aware of the need for improved management and are working on Fisheries management plans for shellfish in our area. Although in our consultation we proposed the downgrading of brown crab ratings, in light of evidence from CIFCA that landings per unit effort were decreasing in Cornish waters we have been assured by CEFAS (centre for fisheries and aquaculture studies a department of DEFRA) that detailed stock assessments will be published shortly so it was decided to leave brown crab ratings as 'Under Review' until we have detailed information on stocks and fishing pressure.
Other ratings that have changed
is still on our recommended list but stock score has decreased in light of increased fishing pressure on this stock in the North Sea and off Norway. Handline caught mackerel is still a good choice but is now rated 2 not 1.
caught in Cornwall have been downgraded to 5 (fish to avoid) due to concerns about illegal electro-fishing for this species and changed HSE restrictions on shellfish diving making it uneconomical without using illegal methods.