Monkfish not under threat, says MCS

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Fisherman in Shetland were breathing a sigh of relief yesterday (Thursday) after the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) removed northern monkfish off its “fish to avoid” list.

Earlier this year, supermarket chain Asda had removed monkfish from their shelves after the MCS declared that fishing for monkfish was unsustainable.

The Scottish whitefish industry had argued that the species was not endangered, and in fact stocks were healthy and growing.

Monkfish expert Dr Chevonne Laurenson from the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway, who has spent the last ten years researching the species, has now been successful in convincing the MSC of the fishermen’s case.

The organisation’s fisheries officer Bernadette Clarke said: “MCS very much welcomed the opportunity to discuss our concerns for this and other European monkfish fisheries with industry leaders.

“Also for the opportunity to be provided with more detailed scientific and management information to allow us to reconsider the sustainability of this specific fishery.

“As a result MCS has re-evaluated it’s rating of the fishery and removed it from our “fish to avoid” list.”

Dr Laurenson was able to prove that there has been a large increase in the amount of northern stock monkfish in the last five years, plus there are no biological indicators to suggest the species is being over fished at unsustainable levels

“There has been widespread recruitment into the fishery since 2001 and all evidence indicates that the stock is continuing to increase in abundance at the present time” she said.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association chairman Leslie Tait added: “Monkfish is very important to the local whitefish sector and we very much welcome the decision by MCS to remove monkfish from its “fish to avoid” list.

“This demonstrates the value of open and honest discussion between scientists, industry representatives and conservation groups to resolve issues.”

Meanwhile it is not known yet if Asda is again to stock northern monkfish. No one at the supermarket was available to comment on the issue yesterday.

Source: Shetland Marine News