Images courtesy of Seafood Scotland.
Cod (Gadus morhua) remains an important fish for Scottish fishermen. In the 1970s and 1980s some very large landings were made. Today cod is no more than a small but valuable by-catch to the Scottish demersal fleet, it accounts for only 2.7% of the tonnage of all fish and shellfish landed into Scotland by UK vessels. Two main stocks of cod (the North Sea and West of Scotland) contributed to Scottish landings in 2008 of 7,645 tonnes worth just over 16 million. Small catches are also made at Rockall. A variety of types of trawl nets are used to catch cod mainly in offshore areas at present. In the past inshore fisheries and local 'set net' fishing have been important; today however, they are no longer pursued. A superb whitefish, it has a long, tapered body with a mixture of sandy-browns, greyish-greens and darker speckles. Whole Cod range from 500g to over 6kg with the smaller fish (500g-1.8kg) sometimes known as Codling.
Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) is the most important demersal fish species to Scottish Fishermen. There are three stocks of haddock, North Sea, West coast and Rockall which contribute to Scottish landings. In 2008 approximately 29,500 tonnes of haddock were landed into Scotland, worth 32.7 million. Haddock accounts for around 35% of all demersal whitefish landings into Scotland. The North Sea fishery is by far the most significant; around 90% of haddock is landed into North Sea ports. A variety of types of trawl nets and seine nets are used to catch haddock. Its commercial significance is well recognised and the Scottish industry is currently taking North Sea haddock through Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment against its standard for environmental and sustainable. Part of the Cod family, but doesn't grow as large, and is not usually available beyond 3.5kg. The flesh is not as white as Cod, and is not as flaky, but has a slightly sweeter taste, which is why Haddock is the best whitefish for smoking.
Whiting (Merlangius merlangus) is one of the smaller gadoid fish species that is of importance to Scottish Fishermen. There are two main stocks, the North Sea and west coast, that contribute to Scottish landings of 9,200 tonnes worth 9.3 million. A variety of types of trawl net are used to catch whiting and they occur in a number of mixed fisheries. The smallest of the Cod family, with a silvery-grey body and rounded belly, and rarely found over 2kg. This is often an overlooked fish but, like Coley, Whiting fillets are a good buy when very fresh.
There are two species of anglerfish or monkfish (Lophius piscatorius & Lophius budegassa) caught in Scottish waters; catches are almost exclusively of the L. piscatorius species. Monkfish are one of the most commercially important fish for Scottish Fishermen, and are of particular economic importance on the west coast. The stock is considered to be continuous across the northern shelf surrounding Scotland and contributed to Scottish landings with just over 10,000 tonnes worth 28 million in 2008. Anglerfish are caught in a variety of mixed fisheries from shallower water nephrops grounds in the North Sea to specialist continental shelf edge fisheries where ground nets are utilised. An ugly fish, which has a huge head, accounting for half the fish's weight. However, there is inner beauty inside! Usually only the tails are sold, and range from 350g to 4kg. In the 70?s Monkfish was only fished commercially as a cheap scampi substitute!
Plaice (Pleuronectes Platessa). Plaice is best eaten as fresh as possible, as the flavour quickly fades. Ranging from 230g to 2kg, whole fish is easily identified by its distinctive orange spots, which also give an indication of the freshness (brighter the spots, the fresher the Plaice).
Halibut (Hippoglossus Hippoglossus). The largest of the flat fish (Halibut have been known to grow as large as 300kg and 4m long in deeper waters!). It has a compressed oval body with a large mouth. The dark eye side is a greenish-dark brown and the blind side is pure white. Smaller fish (1-3kg) are known as baby or chick halibut, and tend to be found in shallower waters. The better quality fish are usually caught by line, so the catch is limited, making them more expensive. The larger fish range in size from 3kg to 70kg.
Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) is the most valuable pelagic fish species for Scottish Fishermen worth 64.63 million. The main western waters stock contributes most mackerel to the 86,619 tonnes landed in 2008. The much smaller North Sea stock remains far below recommended levels and the advice is to protect it. Pelagic trawling is the main fishing method small quantities are taken by hand-lining. The Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group recently gained Marine Stewardship Council certification of the North East Atlantic mackerel fishery against their standard for environmental and sustainable fishing. A superb fish, great value, readily available and yet, amazingly under-rated. Ranging in size from 200g to 800g, Mackerel has a bullet shaped body with silvery-blue skin with dark wavy stripes. One of the richest sources of Omega-3, Mackerel has greyish flesh with a rich flavour.