German blue shell mussel fisheries enter MSC assessment

July 12, 2011 11:02

Nine German mussel fishing vessels have entered full assessment against the internationally recognised MSC standard for sustainable fishing for their harvesting of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis). The vessels are attached to Erzeugerorganisation Schleswig-Holsteinischer Muschelzüchter e.V., a producers' organisation, reports with reference to MSC.

The harvest combines wild mussel fishing and mussel farming

Eight of the fishing vessels harvest mussels from culture plots in the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park, and one harvests wild mussels in the coastal waters of the Flensburg inner fjord outside the conservation areas. The independent assessment is being conducted by certification organisation SGS and is scheduled to last 8-12 months. The blue mussel harvest combines wild mussel fishing and mussel farming. Seed mussels are harvested from wild mussel beds where spats settle naturally. The fishermen relay the seed mussels to culture plots where they grow to edible size in one or two years and can then be harvested for sale (marketable mussel fishing). Both types of fishery (fishing for seed mussels and marketable mussels) are carried out by dredges. In the 2009 fishing season, the eight fishing vessels harvested 1510 metric tonnes of marketable mussels. The main harvesting season for both fishing areas runs from July to February each year.

The tasty shellfish are landed at the North Sea ports of Hörnum on Sylt and Dagebüll. The majority of the harvest is shipped to the Netherlands, from where it is sold to customers all over Europe.
What the MSC says

"Sustainable, forward-looking management of blue mussel stocks is important for the long-term preservation of this valuable resource," says Marnie Bammert, MSC Country Manager, Berlin. "Blue mussels perform an important function in the ecological balance of the marine ecosystem. They feed on suspended matter, which means they help clean the water. Mussel beds also provide food and habitats for numerous other marine organisms. I wish the fisheries every success with the assessment of their fishing methods against the internationally recognised MSC criteria for sustainable fishing," she adds.
What the client says

"We are taking up the challenge and are having our fishing activities assessed for environmental sustainability. The MSC assessment is being conducted by an independent certification body using a team of experts with comprehensive knowledge of fishery ecology and fishery management. If we can demonstrate that we fulfil the MSC standard, we will be able to use the blue MSC ecolabel to sell our mussels," reports a proud Peter Ewaldsen, Managing Director of Erzeugerorganisation Schleswig-Holsteinischer Muschelzüchter e.V.
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