Saithe, otherwise known as Coley, is one of our favourites. Saithe is a gadoid, in the same family as cod, but it’s generally smaller, less meaty and a bit bonier. Because of this it’s never been as popular but don’t let that put you off; it’s great, especially when fresh.
Most saithe/coley is caught by the demersal trawl fleet, often the same boats catching your cod or haddock. We’re just coming out of the breeding time so aim for bigger fish – minimum size is 35cm, but anything above 60cm is mature so had chance to spawn.
Despite there being some concerns about trawling causing damage to the seafloor and other species being accidentally bycaught and discarded in this fishery, all the coley fisheries around Scotland are rated green or green/amber by the MCS Good Fish Guide
Here’s where they’re caught and where they are landed. There is a concentration of landings to the big ports of Peterhead, Lerwick and Kinlochbervie but Scrabster, Ullapool and Mallaig all have several tonnes worth of fish landing there each year. The fishing grounds are concentrated in the north North Sea and along the ‘Hebridean Shelf’, a steep underwater cliff edge to the North of Lewis.
This blog is part of our ‘Fish Local’ series, to help inform how you can buy locally-landed and sustainable seafood.
Mapped data courtesy of MMO and made available under OGL. Catch data – 2018 UK Vessel Landings per ICES rectangle. Landings data – 2018 UK Vessel Landings to Scottish Ports. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-sea-fisheries-annual-statistics-report-2018.
Fish images above courtesy of illustrations from The Natural History of British Fishes (1802) by Edward Donovan (1768-1837), digitally enhanced by rawpixel.com and adapted by Open Seas