The Joint Demersal Fisheries, a collaboration of large and small-scale fisheries in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat, meet the rigorous requirements for sustainable fishing set by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Fisheries organisations from Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands have taken a holistic approach to sustainable fishing in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat. The Joint Demersal Fisheries can now continue to deliver improvements required for MSC certification across the entire region.
‘After a rigorous assessment process, with contributions from NGOs, peer reviewers and scientists, the Joint Demersal Fisheries is MSC certified,’ said Hans Nieuwenhuis, MSC Director for Northern Europe.
‘This is an achievement for the fishers that have worked hard to improve their fishing practices in a collaborative approach to ensure consistency and coordination in stock and ecosystem management.’
The combined assessment meant that a wide range of stocks, species and gear types were assessed together against the MSC Fisheries Standard. Formerly certified under ten individual MSC certificates, this single MSC certificate includes 15 separate stocks of 12 species, ten gear types and three catch areas in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat covering 961 vessels at time of certification.
The assessment process, carried out by independent Conformity Assessment Body, Control Union Pesca, took two years, reflecting the large and complex nature of the certificate. The process included reviews by independent scientists, extensive stakeholder consultations and in-depth analyses of stock assessments, impacts on other species, habitats and the ecosystem, as well as the effectiveness of regulations and fisheries management.
‘We are very proud of the successful completion of our new MSC certificate. We catch high quality fish, our fisheries are sustainable and most of our catch is MSC certified, this is the icing on the cake and a fantastic victory,’ said Kurt S. Madsen, Deputy Chairman of the Danish Fishermen PO (DFPO).
The fishery is made up of four fishery client groups These are the Danish Fishermen Producers Organisation (DFPO), Coöperatieve Visserij Organisatie (CVO), Swedish Fisherman’s Producer Organisation (SFPO) and Erzeugergemeinschaft Nordsee (EZG) from four countries, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and Germany.
The species included in the certificate are cod1, haddock, hake, ling, megrim, Norway lobster (Nephrops), northern prawn (Pandalus), plaice, saithe, Dover sole, tusk and whiting1. Megrim has been certified for the first time. The assessment included species that are commonly caught together in a mixed fishery, which means a wider range of species from now on can be sold with the MSC blue label.
As with most MSC certified fisheries, the Joint Demersal Fisheries certificate will need to work on further improvements over the next few years to remain certified. The fishery has made a collective action plan with annual milestones that will be evaluated by independent auditors.