Young's Seafood is to start sourcing North Sea cod again, following an improvement in stocks after a two-year self-imposed ban.

The move comes after research showed the North Sea cod fishery was recovering, according to Young's. The company stopped sourcing North Sea cod in 2006 on the basis of scientific advice issued by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas.

"There are now encouraging signs of recovery, which make it appropriate for us to reconsider our position," said Simon Rilatt, director of seafood sustainability at Young's and parent company Foodvest.

While the ban was in place, Young's had continued sourcing cod from other areas, including Iceland.

Greenpeace praised Young's for its approach to sustainable sourcing, but warned that the message it was now sending out should be treated with caution. "We need to be careful not to get over-excited that we've sorted everything out," said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Willie Mackenzie.

"We are mindful of the support our actions can give to fishery stakeholders and we want to use this positively," Rilatt added.

The WWF stressed that while stocks were showing signs of recovery, they had not yet fully recovered. The organisation was seeking clarification as to how Young's intended to ensure its sourcing in the North Sea did not hamper the sustained recovery of stocks, a spokesman said.

Young's said it would not source major quantities of North Sea cod at this stage, adding that it hoped to work more closely with stakeholders involved in stock recovery.

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