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Saithe

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General

Cod-like fish

Cod-like fishes belong to the Gadidae family. This includes the Atlantic and Pacific cod, pouting, haddock, whiting, European pollock, Alaska pollock and saithe. They live near the seabed in coastal waters and in deeper waters. During the day, they aggregate in schools. At night, they separate to forage independently. Gadidae are omnivorous fish that feed on worms, molluscs, bivalves, crustaceans and small fish. They migrate over large distances to spawn and to hunt on large schools of herring and smelt.

 

 

Saithe

Saithe is a species of fish that belongs to the same family as cod. There are two very similar species: saithe and pollack. Pollack in the UK is called Atlantic or European pollock in the US. Although pollack can reach the same size as saithe, the maximum life span of pollack is shorter by about 8 years old. Saithe can grow up to 130 cm and get 25 to 30 years old and is native to the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean.

 

Saithe

Pollachius virens
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)
Deelgebieden: Norwegian Sea

Farming- / Catch method

Demersal otter trawl, Danish seine, Bottom otter trawl, Midwater otter trawl, Purse seines, Set longlines, Handlines and pole-lines (hand operated), Gillnets

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Explanation assessment

In 2008 the first fishery on saithe became MSC-certifiedMSC Certified:
Fisheries that comply with the Marine Stewardship Council assessment criteria and are certified. Fish products with the blue MSC label are caught by sustainable fisheries.
. Currently most of the European fishery on saithe is MSC-certified: 97% of the catches from the North Sea and the Skagerrak. Saithe from Iceland is also MSC-certified. There are several methods being used: bottom otter trawl, pair trawl, (increasingly) semi-pelagic trawl, purse seine, Danish seine, gillnet, longlines and handlines.

 

Saithe

Pollachius virens
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)

Farming- / Catch method

Gillnets

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Saithe is vulnerable to high fishing pressure because this species becomes sexually mature at a relatively high age. After a period of recovery, the Iceland saithe stock has recovered fully and is not being [overfished overfishing].

[Gillnets and similar nets] are relatively selective and generally have a low bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
of undersized fish. However, some species get entangled in gillnets such as sharks and rays. It is unknown how this fishery deals with the catch of unprotected and commercially unwanted species. Gillnets that are placed in more vulnerable environments, like coral reefs can do a lot more damage.

This fishery is managed by fishing quotaQuota:
The maximum amount of fish of a species that may be landed per country and per year; an instrument for regulating fisheries. 
and [catch limits catch limit]. In addition, Iceland has several other management measures in place such as minimum mesh sizes, [selection panels], temporarily and permanently closed areas and a [discard discards] ban for commercially unwanted species. Iceland has one of the most effective management systems in place for implementation, compliance and enforcement. The Icelandic management plan for Saithe that has recently been implemented, has adopted the precautionary approach and complies with a stock recovery to the MSYMSY:
Theoretically the greatest possible 'safe' catch, in which fish populations have sufficient size to reproduce in the long term.  
level.

 

Saithe

Pollachius virens
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)
Deelgebieden: Barents sea

Farming- / Catch method

Purse seines

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Saithe is vulnerable to high fishing pressure because this species becomes sexually mature at a relatively high age. The stock in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian waters is within biological safe limits. [Fishing pressure] is very high, but the stock has grown.

Fishing with seines is a relatively clean fishery. However, there is sometimes bycatch of young fish, sea mammals and seabirds in the Norwegian seine fishery. There is also sometimes fish discarded because the quality is too low (‘slipping’).

The fishery is managed by means of closed areas when there is much young saithe present and there are [catch limits] determined. This [management plan] is effective.

Saithe

Pollachius virens
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)

Farming- / Catch method

Demersal otter trawl

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Saithe is vulnerable to high fishing pressure because this species becomes sexually mature at a relatively high age. After a period of recovery, the Iceland saithe stock has recovered fully and is not being [overfished overfishing].

Because of the use of [selection panels] in the nets, this fishery has relatively low levels of bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
. Iceland has a [discard discards] ban of commercially unwanted species. When the bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
levels are too high, the fishery will be closed temporarily. This fishing method has incidental bycatches of sharks and rays.

[Demersal otter trawls] are in contact with the seabed and directly disturb the benthic ecosystem. Intensive fishing with demersal otter trawls  changes the ecosystem in the long-term. Especially in areas where there are coral reefs, like Iceland, these effects can be substantial.

This fishery is managed by fishing quotaQuota:
The maximum amount of fish of a species that may be landed per country and per year; an instrument for regulating fisheries. 
and [catch limits catch limit]. In adittion, Iceland has several other management measures in place such as minimum mesh sizes, [selection panels], temporarily and permantly closed areas and a [discard discards] ban for commercially unwanted species. Iceland has one of the most effective management systems in place for implementation, compliance and enforcement. The Icelandic management plan for Saithe that has recently been implemented, has adopted the precautionary approach and complies with a stock recovery to the MSYMSY:
Theoretically the greatest possible 'safe' catch, in which fish populations have sufficient size to reproduce in the long term.  
level.

Saithe

Pollachius virens
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, south-east (FAO 47)
Deelgebieden: Faroe Islands

Farming- / Catch method

Midwater otter trawl, Trawls

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Saithe is vulnerable to high fishing pressure because this species becomes sexually mature at a relatively high age. The stock is within safe biological limits however, the current [fishing pressure] is too high.

[Midwater otter trawls] are operated in the water column and do not interfere with the seabed. This method has little bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
of unwanted species and no harmful effects on the seabed.

There is a management plan in place for saithe. This management plan includes restrictions on fishing days, mandatory use of selection panels, fishing quota and closed areas. The effect of the management has not been evaluated, however it seems to have a positive effect on the species.

 

Saithe

Pollachius virens
Origin

Farming- / Catch method

Demersal otter trawl

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Saithe is vulnerable to high fishing pressure because this species becomes sexually mature at a relatively high age. The saithe stock in the North Sea  has been declining for 9 years. [Fishing mortality] has increased during these years and overfishingOverfishing:
There is so much fish caught that the size of the stock has diminished so far that it can no longer produce a maximum sustainable yield. The size of the fish populations is insufficient to reproduce in the long term. 
is a real risk.

Fishing for saithe using [demersal otter trawls] can have high levels of bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
of sharks, skates and common dab. Sharks and skates are vulnerable species and their stocks are under pressure by fishing activities. In the saithe fishery, the trawl nets are dredged just above the seabed. However, the fishery still has a substantial impact on the seabed and the benthic ecosystem. Reefs, cold water corals and sponges are common on the fishing grounds for saithe and can be significantly damaged by this fishing technique.

The management system for saithe appeared to be effective, however the substantial decline of the saithe stock was noticed too late. Implementation of fishery measures were taken too late. In 2004, a long-term [management plan] was established. However, the negative effects of demersal otter trawls have not been incorporated in this management plan. Most saithe fisheries are [MSC certified]. If the management measures do not show any sotck recovery, the MSC-label will be withdrawn.

 

 

 

Saithe

Pollachius virens
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)

Farming- / Catch method

Demersal otter trawl

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  • Feb
  • Mar
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  • May
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  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Saithe is vulnerable to high fishing pressure because this species becomes sexually mature at a relatively high age. The stock is within [safe biological limits] however, the current [fishing pressure] is too high.

[Demersal otter trawls] have in general a lot of bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
. However, there is a lot less bycatch in the demersal trawling fisheries around the Faroe Islands. Occasionally cod and haddock are caught. Demersal otter trawls are large and heavy nets that are dredged on the seabed. This can negatively affect the benthic ecosystem.

There is a management plan in place for saithe. This management plan includes restrictions on fishing days, mandatory use of selection panels, fishing quotaQuota:
The maximum amount of fish of a species that may be landed per country and per year; an instrument for regulating fisheries. 
and [closed areas]. The effect of the management has not been evaluated, however it seems to have a positive effect on the species.

 

 

ASC label

Fish with the ASC label is farmed in a sustainable manner.

MSC label

Fish with the MSC label is caught sustainably.

Good fish

This fish is not being overfished or is being responsibly farmed, with minimal impact on the environment.

Second choice

This fish is a second choice. There are still some improvements to be made in this fishery or fish farm.

Avoid

Do not buy this fish. It's being overfished or the way it's farmed or caught has a negative impact on the environment.

By-catch

This fish is unwillingly caught while fishing for a different species. They are underused and should be eaten more.

GlobalG.A.P.

GlobalG.A.P. certified farms are doing a step in the right direction in terms of sustainability. A few species with this label are getting a better score on the VISwijzer.

Organic

Organic standards are the strictest when it comes to fish feed. They also require certain measures for animal well-being.

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