Invited to Denmark by the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Charlina Vitcheva, The European Commission’s Director General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), visited Skagen this week to learn about handling and control of pelagic landings in Denmark.
Marine Ingredients Denmark, the Danish association for fishmeal and fish oil producers, participated.
The purpose of the visit was for the Danish industry to demonstrate their technical solutions to the handling of landings of unsorted pelagic fish. Special attention was given to a specific requirement in the EU Control Regulation that the fishermen must estimate in their logbook the exact weight of all by-catches above 50kg in the catch. This is a requirement that is impossible to meet in pelagic catches.
According to Marine Ingredients Denmark, pelagic landings are unsorted because fish are pumped directly from the fishing gear into the tanks of the vessels with no sorting taking place on board. Small volumes of other species than the target fish can be caught as by-catch.
It was explained during the visit that by-catch in the pelagic fishery is not in itself an issue, and most sustainable fishing will include some small levels of by-catch – the key is proper management, accountability, and control. This is what makes sampling and registration of by-catch is so important when the fish is landed for production.
‘In Denmark, the sampling and determination of all species in the catch follow strict sampling plans embedded in the national regulation,’ explained Anne Mette Bæk, managing director of the Danish and European fishmeal associations.
‘When unsorted pelagic landings are landed for fishmeal and fish oil production, the total catch and by-catch is registered by certified third party inspectors, and the total amount of by-catch from each species is calculated and counted against the quotas. In this way, we can ensure that all caught species are registered and fished within the quotas.’
Summing up on her visit to Skagen, Charlina Vitcheva commented on what she found to be a very professional industry.
‘This professional industry has demonstrated today, with use of modern technology, that it is highly dedicated to transparency and that trust is at its core,’ she said.
‘Fish stocks are natural resources and we who use them have a responsibility to take care of their sustainability,’ Anne Mette Bæk said.
‘Therefore trust is part of or social contract with society, a license to operate and as such a key focus of ours. With the use of independent third-party surveyors to handle the weighing and species sampling we have developed a transparent and effective system that cannot be compromised.’
The host of the day, chairman of European Fishmeal and CEO of Denmark’s largest fishmeal factory, FF Skagen, says that:
‘As we in the fishmeal industry want to be considered sustainable, there is no way around this,’ added Jóhannes Pálsson, chairman of European Fishmeal and CEO of Denmark’s largest fishmeal factory, FF Skagen, who hosted the visit to Skagen.
‘We have worked hard to implement modern technological solutions at the plant with a dedicated focus on sustainability and traceability. All based on the Industry standard for draining and weighing of unsorted pelagic landings for fishmeal and fish oil production developed and signed by all members of European Fishmeal. We strongly encourage all fishmeal factories operating around the Northeastern Atlantic and Baltic Sea to introduce similar systems.’
‘In Denmark, we probably have the strictest rules concerning the landing of unsorted pelagic species in the world,’ added chairman of Marine Ingredients Denmark and CEO of TripleNine Group, Jes Bjerregaard.
‘But the challenges it has posed is by far outweighed by the fact, that the rules guarantee that one kilo is always one kilo.”