Call for Urgent Action on Blue Whiting Overfishing

Aquascot joins salmon producers and retailers in a call for legislative changes to protect North Atlantic blue whiting stocks

North Atlantic blue whiting has been overfished for years, leading to the loss of its sustainability status. Aquascot echoes recent calls from fellow salmon producers and retailers to protect the species, now and in the future.

As a business that places high importance on responsible sourcing and welfare, we have closely monitored the blue whiting situation in recent years — including the loss of its MSC certification in 2020. We and our retail partners hold demonstrably high sustainability and welfare requirements for farmed salmon and trout, and so we are concerned for the future prospects of North Atlantic blue whiting as a feed ingredient.

As members of the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA) we fully support the calls to end overfishing of blue whiting, in order to regain its MSC certified sustainable fishery status.

North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group logo

The work done in recent years to support growth of blue whiting populations has paid off, but has been counteracted by overfishing that exceeded scientific advice by 30% in 2021 and 44% in 2022. With increased stocks, there is now an opportunity, and an urgent need, to create a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) quota that will be accepted by all Coastal States. We would like to see the Coastal States take action on catching quotas and commit to long-term management plans for this valuable species through the blue whiting improvement project.

Dr Andrew Davie, our Head of Aquaculture said:

“We source UK farmed salmon renowned for its eating quality and we cannot compromise on our expectations for the responsible sourcing of the ingredients in the feeds the salmon are reared on. Blue whiting has great strengths as an ingredient, but we can only approve of its use if it is sourced from a sustainably managed fishery, which is why we fully support the feed manufacturers’ strong stance.”

Melissa Tillotson, Senior Aquaculture and Fisheries Manager at Waitrose, added:

“Our commitment to only source from well-managed fisheries applies equally to the marine ingredients in our aquaculture feed as it does to the fish on our customers’ plates: there are no exceptions. Thanks to record levels of recruitments, we are fortunate to be presented with a rare chance to safeguard the blue whiting stock from overfishing without making cuts to catches this year and secure an agreement to help the blue whiting fisheries re-establish their certified status.

The last time there was an agreement on sustainable shares for blue whiting was 2015 - 8 years ago! Our collective message to the coastal states is clear: do not waste this golden opportunity.”

If fishing quotas stay as they are, and Coastal States continue to overfish blue whiting, we fear this opportunity will be lost, and may not be presented again. We’re pleased to see support across the sector and hope an agreement can be reached for the future of North Atlantic blue whiting.

More details on North Atlantic blue whiting can be found on the Seafish website.

Find out more about Aquascot's commitment to sustainability and welfare in our products here.

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