Iceland announces cod and haddock sustainability assessment

November 22, 2010 10:06

Icelandic Group, one of the world's ten largest seafood companies, has submitted its cod and haddock fisheries for independent assessment for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification - the most rigorous global seafood sustainability standard, reports with reference to WWF.

WWF has welcomed the announcement, noting that if the certification bid is successful it will considerably extend sustainable fish choices for consumers on a global scale.

Icelandic Group purchases and markets 35% of the total fish quota caught in the seas of Iceland, in value terms the world's 11th largest exporter of seafood.

The certification assessment will cover all of the cod and haddock fisheries supplying the group and a diversity of harvesting methods including Demersal otter trawls, Danish seine, long lines, hand lines and gill nets.

Successful assessment could add up to 160,000 tonnes of Cod and 50,000 tonnes of Haddock annually to stocks of MSC certified seafoods.

"WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative (SFI) is excited about the announcement of the Icelandic Group, that all Icelandic cod and haddock undergoes independent third party MSC full assessment," said initiative leader Alfred Schumm.

"We expect that this will result in even improved fisheries management in future and that these fisheries might become as well examples for good sustainable management."

"Consumers cannot yet buy year round fresh MSC certified cod and haddock globally. With certified Icelandic fish labelled with the blue MSC logo there is now a real prospect this gap will be closed."

"join more than 200 other fisheries"

The assessment will be conducted by Den Norske Veritas, an independent foundation active in diverse fields of safeguarding life, property and the environment in around 100 countries.

"The WWF Smart Fishing Initiative expects a robust and credible MSC certification procedure and is happy to act as stakeholder within this process," said Schumm.

If certified, the Icelandic cod and haddock fisheries will join more than 200 fisheries engaged in the MSC programme, nearly one hundred of which have been fully certified.

"Icelandic Group's decision to enter all cod and haddock fisheries in Iceland into MSC assessment is of huge historical significance and will impact everyone involved in the catching, processing and sale of Iceland's whitefish," said Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC.

Icelandic Group said it saw the MSC certification as strengthening its competitiveness in the international marketplace by responding to increasing buyer and consumer insistence on having "the peace of mind that the fish they're buying comes from a well managed and sustainable

"MSC certification assessment is part of Icelandic Group's continued investment in the Iceland fisheries and we are delighted in taking a leading role in this project. MSC certification, in our mind, will confirm what a robust and responsible fisheries management system we have in Iceland, and support fair access of Icelandic seafood to the world market now and in the future," said Ingvar Eyfjörð, deputy CEO of Icelandic Group.

Icelandic Group is already party to the Icelandic Responsible Fisheries (IRF) scheme and views the two labels as complementary within the global seafood market.

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