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Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Has cod had its chips?
UK fishermen only land 27% of Britain's supply
Yet another call for the protection of cod stocks has been issued, this time from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

But the fish industry is imposing its own controls on cod depletion - high prices.

And cod is not as widespread a choice for the UK's favourite meal - a fish and chip supper - as might be expected.

It is still the traditional number one choice, with 164.1 million servings of cod sold from fish and chip shops alone. But cod is only the top choice in certain areas.

In Yorkshire and Scotland haddock has always been the preferred bite with whiting the main choice in Northern Ireland.

Crocodile supper

Seafish, the industry authority responsible for promoting all types of fish, confirmed fish and chips was still the UK's official top takeaway meal.

But Mandy Queen of Seafish said as low stocks had pushed up the price over the years the industry had to look for alternatives.

"In my local area I can choose from lemon sole to crocodile suppers. Haddock, plaice and whiting are all popular choices," she said.

average price
The average price of a fish supper is 2.30 to 3.50
In a recent blind taste test for new varieties available to the UK, top industry figures preferred a bit of coley with their chips.

Conger eel came second, although it posed a problem for the fish frier when he had to de-bone it.

Fishmongers, like the rest of the industry, believe proper measures are already being taken to preserve cod stocks.

While certain areas like the Irish Sea are almost "no-go" areas, the fish is still caught in huge volume in the waters around Iceland and Norway.

fish farms
Fish farms support the community in some traditional fishing areas
John Adams, spokesman for the National Federation of Fishmongers said cod was not in danger of disappearing from the British plate.

"We can buy as much cod as we like but it is the question of price - it is not as popular as it used to be because there are cheaper alternatives on the market. Salmon is catching up to it as far as the consumer is concerned.

"Cod is available to the customer every day of the week, although not necessarily from our own waters."

You could produce cod in the middle of Birmingham

John Adams, Fishmongers' Federation

But Mr Adams is convinced more could be done to increase the amount of UK cod available. His organisation wants the government to put more money into fish farming.

"You could produce cod in the middle of Birmingham using new methods being developed in the fish farming industry which use a re-circulating system of water."

Fish farming is big business in many areas of the world including China and the United States.

Although this new area of the industry has had its own problems to face, Mr Adams is certain the future for threatened species depends on perfecting its growth on farms as well as protecting it in the sea.

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20 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Fish and chips under threat
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