Baltic fishermen seek MSC certification for herring and sprat

Baltic fishermen seek MSC certification for herring and sprat

Fishermen’s associations in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Estonia are embarking on the assessment process for Baltic herring and sprat which could see these species certified as sustainable once the extensive assessment has been completed.

‘It’s good to see fishermen co-operate across borders to ensure sustainable fish stocks in the Baltic,’ said Majken Møller, Communications and Marketing Manager for MSC Denmark.

If successful, the MSC process will certify that these species are not overfished and that the stocks are maintained at a sustainable level. The assessment is carried out by a third party verification body.

In recent years, an EU management plan has been put in place, and several of the herring stocks can be included in assessments for MSC’s standard. In June this year Finland and Latvia achieved certification for herring and sprat. Now Danish, Swedish, German and Estonian fishermen are looking for certification when fishing on the same stock.

Baltic herring is smaller than its North Sea counterpart and has a lower fat content. The recently awarded certification for sustainable herring and sprat includes the herring stocks in the central and eastern Baltic and in the Gulf of Bothnia.

The group of fisheries organisations from the four countries represents approximately 40% of the catch of herring and sprat from the central part of the Baltic Sea and about 20% of the herring in the Gulf of Bothnia, so this is a significant proportion of Baltic pelagic fisheries.

‘It is gratifying that the certification of Baltic Sea brisling and herring in the eastern Baltic is now under way, so DPPO can deliver even more sustainability certified fish. At the same time, certification means that DPPO is getting closer to its aim of having all of its fisheries and participating members certified,’ said Esben Sverdrup-Jensen, director of the Danish Pelagic Producers’ Organisation.

Both sprat and herring are primarily caught using pelagic trawls. The bulk of Danish catches are processed into fishmeal and oil.