First Icelandic fisheries enter MSC assessment

April 28, 2010 12:44

The Icelandic exporting business Saemark has entered its cod, haddock and wolffish fisheries for full assessment under the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) certification programme. These fisheries will be the first in Iceland to be assessed against the MSC standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries, and the first wolffish fishery in the MSC programme. If the fisheries are successful, their seafood products will be eligible to carry the blue MSC ecolabel, reports with reference to MSC.
About the fisheries

The assessment will include six units of certification made up of 23 vessels supplying Saemark's partners: Fiskvinnslan Islandssaga hf., Hrathfrystihues Hellissands hf., Oddi hf., Porsberg ehf. - four fish processing companies associated with Saemark Seafood Ltd. in the MSC full assessment.

The Icelandic TAC allocation for 2009-2010 was set at 150,000 MT for cod, 63,000MT for haddock and 12,000MT for wolffish. The fisheries under assessment catch 6,200 MT of Atlantic cod, 3,300 MT haddock, and 1,100MT of wolffish using long line, handline and Danish seine. The fishing fleet runs year-round mainly off the west and north-west coasts of Iceland. Sæmark's main markets are the USA, the UK, and continental Europe for fresh and frozen fish and Spain, Italy and Greece for salted fish.
What the fishery says

"There is increasing market demand for MSC certification," says Svavar Guthmundsson, Managing Director of Sæmark Seafoods, "Saemark is applying for MSC certification to meet that demand. We believe it will support Saemark's existing business in key markets like the UK and the USA as well as increase our sales in new markets. There are four producers covered by Sæmark's application, which all are key employers for their local communities. Obtaining MSC certification would enable Saemark to communicate better about sustainability, from the source to the consumer, which is vital in today's seafood business. Because of all this, "Mr Guðmundsson says, "we are delighted that we have signed an assessment contract with the Icelandic certification body Tun."
What the MSC says

"This is a hugely significant development", says Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the Marine Stewardship Council. "Iceland has a long and proud reputation as one of the world's great fishing nations and seafood from its waters travel far and wide. Saemark's decision to enter these fisheries for MSC assessment will have an enormous impact across European and American markets and I eagerly await its conclusion. I hope that in the future more of Iceland's fisheries will follow Saemark's pioneering work towards MSC certification."

Gisli Gíslason, MSC consultant in Iceland adds. "We have worked closely with Saemark for some time, and used the pre-assessment to inform Seamark and their partners about the MSC standard and assessment process. This has been a learning curve for everyone involved and this move is a welcome step towards recognising sustainability in Icelandic fisheries."
About Saemark

Saemark was established in 1985 as a subsidiary of the Icelandic Freezing Plants Corporation. In 1999 the holding company turned to export of frozen seafood exclusively and Sigurður Björnsson created Saemark Seafood Ltd. The company has developed a strong business relationship with major organisations in the Icelandic fishing and fish processing industry. This relationship and a powerful transportation network have made it possible for Saemark Seafood to deliver fresh fish on daily basis to the US, UK and continental Europe.
Contacting the certifier

The assessment will be carried out by independent, certifier Vottunarstofan Tun. Anyone with a stake in these fisheries can be involved and Tun has already identified 23 stakeholders. If you would like to be involved, please contact Dr. Gunnar A. Gunnarsson at Tún expects to complete the assessment within 14 months.
Stakeholders already contacted by certifier

Stakeholders already identified include: Reykjavik University, University of Akureyri, University of Iceland, Ministry for the Environment, the Environment Agency of Iceland, Directorate of Fisheries, Icelandic Food Research, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), Marine Research Institute, Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners, Federation of Icelandic Fish Processing Plants, Icelandic Group hf., Icelandic Seafood International, National Association of Small Boat Owners, the Seamen Association, the Association of Local Authorities in Iceland, the Icelandic Environment Association, the Icelandic Nature Conservation Organization, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Icelandic Tourist Board.

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