It’s served everywhere from local pubs to parties for Prince William and Kate Middleton, and now Britain may be able to take back control of its favourite dish.
The North Sea’s supply of cod, the staple ingredient in a traditional plate of fish and chips, has recovered after appearing to be on the “brink of collapse” a decade ago. Cod caught by English and Scottish boats can now be sold with the “blue tick” sustainability certification, the Marine Stewardship Council announced on Wednesday.
Over-fishing to satisfy the UK’s cod appetite - Brits currently eat around 380 million portions of fish and chips per year - saw North Sea stocks fall to just 44,000 tonnes in 2006, having peaked at 270,000 tonnes in the 1970s. The supply squeeze meant the majority of cod served in the UK had to come from foreign waters such as the Norwegian and Barents seas.
Following its decision to exit the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May has said Britain will pull out of an agreement that allows European fishing vessels to access waters as close as six to twelve nautical miles (11 to 22 km) from the UK coastline. That’s despite the 1964 London Fisheries Convention pre-dating the UK’s membership of the trading bloc.
The Scottish Government and EU Fisheries Council’s ‘Cod Recovery Plan’ aimed to reduce North Sea cod catches by 25% in 2009, followed by subsequent annual reductions of 10%.
Steps included installing CCTV cameras on board boats to collect data on fish supply, and linking the conservation measures boats signed up for with the number of days they were allowed on the water.