New certifications, new species
Some recent arrivals in the certified sustainable seafood market are plaice (Netherlands/Denmark), sardines (UK, France), haddock (UK), icefish (South Georgia) and, from Canada, sockeye salmon, sablefish, haddock and yellowtail flounder, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to MSC.
In an example of international co-operation, 8 Danish vessels have joined the 5 Dutch vessels already certified for the Ekofish North Sea plaice twinrig fishery. The Ekofish group has voluntarily agreed with WWF and the North Sea Foundation to close selected areas and to participate in scientific research programs to map the impacts of the gear on the seabed. Operating in the same part of the North Sea, the Osprey Group (4 vessels) from the Netherlands has also been certified for its plaice catch.
Meanwhile, in the UK and France, 2 sardine fisheries have been certified, Cornwall's traditional in-shore sardine fishery and the South Brittany sardine purse seine fishery. The Cornish fishery was part a pilot program to develop a way for data deficient fisheries - often found in the developing world - to be able to achieve MSC certification. After performing well in the Risk-Based framework assessment, Cornish sardines went on to pass the regular MSC assessment. The Breton certification marks the second French fishery to carry the MSC ecolabel and catches 15,000-20,000 MT of sardines annually. The Association des Bolincheurs de Bretagne says it is committed to "go the extra mile to preserve the resource we have" and has signed an agreement with officials from the Iroise Marine Park for the purposes of gathering data on bycatch species and sensitive habitats.
Certified sustainable haddock could be a regular feature in fish and chip shops across the UK after the Scottish haddock fishery was certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery.
The South Georgia icefish fishery scored particularly highly on its maintenance of the ecosystem with nets designed to avoid contact with the ocean floor and extensive measures in place to limit bycatch of seabirds. As part of its certification the fishery has also committed to further research on the fishery and the icefish stock over the next four years.
In Canada, four recent certifications bring sockeye salmon, sablefish, haddock and yellowtail flounder to the market. From Fraser River comes sockeye salmon, joining 3 other BC sockeye salmon fisheries previously certified. This fishery recently re-opened to commercial fishing, with reports of record runs. Canadian sablefish - also known as black cod - is managed under the Groundfish Integration Program designed to improve various management practices, and has adopted a number of positive measures to improve sustainability such as 100% electronic at-sea monitoring. Scotia Fundy haddock is the first east coast ground fishery in North America to be certified and catches approximately 26,000 metric tonnes of haddock. Finally, the OCI Grand Bank yellowtail flounder fishery was certified in October 2010 with management strengths cited including: a comprehensive monitoring and surveillance system, a management strategy and gear to ensure bycatch is minimized and an effective management strategy for endangered, threatened and protected species.
At the end of October, 97 fisheries - together landing more than 5 million metric tonnes (MT) of fish - were certified under the MSC program. Another 132 fisheries (3.2 million MT) were in full assessment.