Cuttlefish added to red food list after stocks decline in Channel

Consumers are being urged to avoid eating cuttlefish caught by trawlers in the Channel to help alleviate pressure on threatened stocks.

A rise in prices has fuelled an increase in catches of the molluscs over the last decade, with landings in the UK in 2018 worth a record GBP14.9m, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said. Declines in populations in the Channel have led the charity to add cuttlefish caught in the area to its red “fish to avoid” list.

The society’s 2020 Good Fish Guide, published on Thursday, sets out the most and least sustainable fish and seafood to eat.

Brown crab caught in pots around Shetland is back on the menu, now rated green for “best choice”, after a recovery in stocks, but consumers are urged not to eat queen scallops fished from around the Isle of Man.

In other changes, non-certified pole- and line-caught skipjack tuna from the Indian Ocean has moved off the best choice list and is now rated amber, and Icelandic Atlantic wolffish has moved from red to amber.

The cuttlefish is unpopular with Britons, but on the continent it is a prized alternative to squid, and its ink is often used in risotto and pasta.

Charlotte Coombes, manager of the Good Fish Guide programme, said: “Between 2008 and 2017, catches of cuttlefish more than doubled. MCS urgently wants to see management keeping up with the growth of this fishery to protect cuttlefish during their spawning season and to ensure the population can stay healthy from one year to the next.”

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