Second North Sea plaice fishery earns MSC certificate
The Osprey Trawlers North Sea Twin-rigged plaice fishery has been awarded the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certificate, making it the second North Sea plaice fishery to achieve MSC certification for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. The 4 member vessels  of the Osprey Group will from now be able to affix the blue MSC ecolabel to their catches, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to MSC.
The MSC environmental certification and eco-labelling scheme is the only programme to be fully consistent with the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) ‘Guidelines for the Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries'.
About the fishery
The fishery targets plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) using twin-rigged demersal trawl in the north east Atlantic. Its vessels catch approximately 2,000 Metric Tonnes annually - 3% of EU North Sea quota. The North Sea plaice stock is assessed as being within safe biological limits and the large mesh size used means that discards levels are low. The Osprey Group's fishing season runs from 1 April to 15 November in order to avoid the spawning season for plaice.
The use of twin otter trawls to fish for plaice is a relatively recent innovation. The main reason for the change to twin rigs is the reduction in fuel used and improved condition of the landed fish. The nets have a number of features designed to reduce the discarding of unwanted by-catch and to reduce the impact on the sea floor. To protect the sea bed Osprey Group have closed a number of areas. These areas correspond with those previously closed by Ekofish Group.
The plaice is landed at Urk and Insula in The Netherlands but supplies markets selling whole and filleted (fresh & frozen), and breaded plaice fillets throughout the EU.
What the fishery says
Cees de Boer says on behalf of the fishery: "Osprey Group has decided 2 years ago to undertake the step towards acknowledged sustainable fishing. We are pleased that we have earned the certificate. A milestone for our company. By fishing sustainably we secure our resources. This is our natural duty and part of the Osprey Group's fishery management. Obtaining the MSC certificate has underlined this even more."
What the MSC says
Nathalie Steins, Benelux Country Manager for the MSC adds: "I am very happy to see the Osprey Group gaining MSC certification and would like to congratulate them. The supply of certified sustainably caught plaice has grown significantly which will be visible in the market place."
About the fish
The plaice is a very distinct fish with a smooth brown or greenish brown upper-side with many vivid orange spots and bony knobs behind the eyes. Mostly nocturnal, they feed on bottom-living animals.