Sole of Discretion
Whiting is another member of the cod family though has less flaky flesh. Whiting are a perfect example of a fish that has gone up in commercial value as the numbers of more traditional food fish (such as cod and haddock) have gone down. A few years ago it was unheard of to have whiting as a table fish, with the vast majority that were caught being used for fishmeal or pet food. Now, however, whiting are a common sight in fish mongers and supermarket fish counters, and are commonly found in frozen fish products.
With this in mind it is important that whiting stocks are managed correctly so the populations of this fish remain stable. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature currently classes whiting as a species of Least Concern, although this will be reviewed in the near future as there are issues regarding the regulation of commercial fishing for whiting and stocks in certain areas are showing signs of decline
Whiting are greenish with yellowish grey or white flanks and the belly silvery. They can reach a maximum length of about 70cm, and mature sexually at 30cms. Stocks in the North East Atlantic off the Devon coast are reasonably healthy, and the fish is green-rated by the MCS. The main danger to Whiting is that they are relatively cheap so the trawlers may high grade if a more lucrative species is caught, though the discard ban coming in by 2018 will make this illegal, providing the UK continues to observe European fisheries policy post Brexit. Sole of Discretion lands Whiting from both handliners and static netters and they have absolutely no by-catch.
The whiting is a small fish – a specimen of 1kg is a very good catch, but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers. Whiting are very common around much of the UK, and many an angler has been spared a blank fishing session by the willingness of the little whiting to take a bait. Whiting are at their most common in the autumn and winter. Fresh from spawning these early fish are often skinny and very hungry, but they soon fatten up after feeding in coastal waters. Bigger whiting of 500gm to 1kg become more common closer to Christmas, and by late March the whiting have begun to move out to sea again to spawn, although smaller whiting may stay in coastal waters all year round, with areas such as North East England and parts of Scotland seeing whiting caught all year round.
For best results, pre-heat oven to 190C / gas 5, wrap fish in foil parcel with a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon. Bake for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.
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