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Cornish Hake latest UK species to be certified MSC sustainable

Article Date: 2015-06-24

An increasingly popular fish with diners, Cornish hake has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery. This latest recognition means that, subject to strict traceability requirements, Cornish hake can be branded with the MSC’s widely-recognised blue fish ecolabel.


A sustainable success story

Cornish hake has been a popular species for many years, but the stock was left slightly depleted in the late 1990s. Now, thanks to sacrifices and efforts by fishermen, including a new management plan set up in 2001, hake stocks have recovered to nearly double their lowest point.

"We are proud of how the industry has responded to the challenge of working with scientists to better understand the state of fish stocks and where action has been needed to improve stocks it has been taken. What better way to demonstrate that than going through MSC assessment", said Paul Trebilcock, CEO of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO), which is leading the move for certification.

Great news for foodservice - a local UK fishery and interesting species

Cornish fishermen working from a fleet of 15 boats catch hake in the Celtic Sea and land just under 1,000 tonnes of European hake, (Merluccius merluccius), per year into Newlyn, Cornwall which range from 12 metres to nearly 23 metres long.

Claire Pescod, MSC UK Fisheries Outreach Manager, said: "This is excellent news that Cornish hake has achieved MSC certification. They have put in a lot of hard work and it is great that their long-standing efforts have been officially recognised. I’m delighted that there is another certified British species to help meet consumer demand for sustainable seafood – Cornish hake is a fantastic British species and we’re already seeing interest from restaurants who want to add MSC hake to their menu.”

The main market for Cornish hake is in Europe, particularly Spain, France and the UK. Fish are sold as fresh, whole, gutted fillets and steaks into retail and restaurants. The fish has a fantastic flavour, a great texture and is extremely versatile, so is expected to offer plenty of opportunities for restaurants looking to put UK certified sustainable white fish on their menus. 

Laky Zervudachi, Sustainability Director of seafood specialists Direct Seafoods welcomed the certification: "Direct Seafoods are really excited at the recent news that Cornish hake is due to receive its MSC certification. This will be a great opportunity for us to promote a local UK sourced fish that is available in large volumes andtastes delicious. This certification will have a significant impact in raising public awareness in the MSC, as it highlights a truly local fish that is readily available and has been growing in popularity with chefs up and down the country.The Direct Seafoods group are looking forward to supplying this into the industry so ‘watch this space’”

With hake featuring on restaurant and fish and chip shop menus alike, the opportunity to have a brand new MSC ecolabelled UK species is a great one to take advantage of according to George Clark, MSC UK Commercial Manager: "We’re delighted to announce that we have another local UK fishery landing certified sustainable MSC fish and look forward to seeing this becoming widely available as it’s adopted by the MSC certified supply chain. I’m really looking forward to trying some and promote this delicious, highly versatile and certified sustainable species, that will be supplied fresh, from British waters and caught in a certified Cornish fishery.”

Fish Friers