East Devon chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall reacts to the over-fishing of mackerel
East Devon celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has reacted to the UK's largest marine charity's ruling that mackerel is no longer a sustainable fish.
The chef, who founded the River Cottage enterprise, which includes a cookery school near Axminster, has long promoted the benefits of the fish because of its environmentally sustainable credentials.
But the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has now removed mackerel from its 'fish to eat' list recommending that it should only be consumed occasionally because of recent over-fishing.
Conservationists fear stocks could be at risk after Iceland and the Faroe Islands dramatically increased their quotas in recent years.
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Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall, who founded the Fish Fight campaign to highlight the issue of over-fishing and the mass discarding of fish at sea, and encourage people to eat fish that is sustainable, said he always follows the advice of MCS, and the campaign iPhone app and website will be updated in light of the society's revelation.
"It's very sad news that fears about over-fishing of mackerel have led the MCS to take this wonderful fish off their Fish to Eat list," he said.
"When we started the Mac Bap campaign two years ago, mackerel was certified as sustainable and part of a well managed fishery.
"Unfortunately things have changed, and politics and greed are getting in the way of common sense.
"If the countries involved could agree sensible catch limits this could still be a certified sustainable fishery.
"We hope that these so called 'mackerel wars' can be laid to rest as soon as possible, so we can all go back to eating mackerel again with a clear conscience."
He added: "The MCS are advising that handline caught mackerel from inshore boats is the best choice to make when eating mackerel, and at our River Cottage Cookery School and canteens we will continue to serve South West handline caught mackerel on an occasional basis, as we do not wish do withdraw our support from small scale local fishermen who are catching mackerel in the most sustainable way possible.
"We continue to review all our fish sourcing on a regular basis."