“The Marine Conservation Society’s recent advice, to avoid Scottish crab and lobster on the basis that whales may become entangled in fishing gear, has been released without clear scientific evidence to support it, and worryingly, the consultation with experts in the sector seems patchy. It is our understanding that these instances are very rare, and that significant work has already gone into avoidance of entanglement, therefore the MCS response seems disproportionate.
“In terms of monkfish, experts within the industry have noted that the drop in population is within the context of an all-time high – so the drop actually signifies a return to ‘normal’ levels. With stringent management measures in place and the full Fishery Improvement Programme expected in 2022, stock levels should be entirely manageable.
“As an industry that has navigated two seismic crises over the last two years, coming through a global pandemic which saw the food service sector all but close down, followed swiftly by a painful Brexit process, this new advice deals a further blow to a centuries-old industry trying to get back on its feet. Fishing families and communities are already battling the odds.
“Scottish fishers are respectful of the environment from which they take their living. It is in their interest to look after it for this, and future, generations. For that reason, we disagree with the Marine Conservation Society’s advice to consumers and urge them to work more closely with the sector in future, speaking to fishers and fostering a collaborative approach to any emerging issues. The absence of data should not lead to a blanket ‘avoid’ directive; rather it highlights an opportunity to seek further information around which sound advice can be crafted.
“We would still highly recommend Scottish lobster, crab and monkfish, which is some of the finest in the world.”