Danish North Sea plaice trawl fishery receives MSC certificate
The Danish Fishermen's Producers Organisation (DFPO) Otter Trawl North Sea Plaice trawl fishery has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification following a rigorous, independent assessment against the MSC standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. Products from this fishery may now bear the MSC ecolabel,which gives customers assurance that they can be traced to a certified, well-managed fishery, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to MSC.
About the DFPO Danish North Sea Plaice trawl fishery
The certified plaice fishery comprises approximately 50 vessels using demersal otter trawl to catch plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) in the North Sea. The fishery currently lands around 5,000 tonnes of North Sea plaice. Plaice landed in Denmark is mainly exported as chilled whole fish to Northern European markets such as The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, consumed domestically and to a lesser degree exported as frozen fillets to a variety of European countries.
Milestones for habitat strategy
The North Sea plaice fishery originally entered MSC assessment with three different gear types; set net, seine and trawl. The set net and seine fisheries were certified earlier this spring. The independent assessment team's recommendation to certify the trawler component was further examined by an Independent Adjudicator (IA), after an objection was lodged by WWF Netherlands on behalf of a number of stakeholders.
The Danish otter trawl plaice fishery mainly takes place on dynamic, sandy seabed, which recovers much faster than other habitat types from the impact of fishing operations. In order to further reduce uncertainties about the potential impact of its operations, the fishery has also undertaken, as a condition of certification, to implement a habitat strategy which will ensure enhanced protection of vulnerable habitats through measures such as closed areas, gear modifications, technical developments and targeted research.
In responding to the issues raised by WWF in the notice of the objection, the assessment team strengthened the action plan for implementing the habitat strategy and milestones in the conditions for the delivery of specific outcomes on an annual basis were added. The independent adjudicator accepted that the assessment team had taken stakeholder concerns into account, and found that the scoring decisions were justified by the evidence presented. The fishery could therefore be certified sustainable.
What the fishery says
DFPO chairman Kurt Madsen says: "Two months ago the Danish set net and Danish seine fisheries for North Sea plaice were awarded MSC certification, and have since then experienced a tremendous interest in the marketplace. As we have committed ourselves to seek certification for all Danish fisheries, we are obviously very pleased that our customers appreciate our efforts. Needless to say then, that we are both happy and proud to have our third gear type, otter trawl, certified now as well. "
Precautionary management by Danish plaice fishery
Congratulating the fishery, Camiel Derichs, MSC's Deputy Director Europe says: "I congratulate the Danish Otter Trawl North Sea plaice fisheries with their achievement. They have shown to operate sustainably with respect for nature, and DFPO is committed to continuous improvement".
" The expert team that evaluated the fishery set a number of conditions, among other a condition to reduce benthic impacts of these fisheries. As a result DFPO will adopt a habitat strategy aiming to reduce the impacts on vulnerable habitats. This strategy will make use of measures such as closed areas, gear restrictions and technical improvements. The strategy will be evaluated and adjusted yearly to assure its effectiveness. This certification is important for the fishermen as well as the market, since a significant demand for MSC certified plaice can now be met."