The implementation in 2020 of a management plan for setting the number of fishing days based on scientific advice has been a decisive factor in achieving MSC approval for Faroese cod and haddock fisheries, according to the MSC’s own report.
The new approval is an extension of the current MSC approval of fisheries for ling and tusk in Faroese waters. Approvals can be conditional or unconditional. In this case, the approval by the MSC is conditional, under which the most important condition is that the computer model and simulations for estimating precautionary elements of the management plan are peer reviewed, and if required, work with the Faroese Authorities to modify the management plan so that the plan is consistent with MSC objectives.
The Faroese industry has been limited in its access to international markets for cod and haddock caught in Faroese waters. Several retailers have required documentation for sustainability when selecting their suppliers. This has had financial consequences for Faroese fish exports, since these fisheries had no international certification.
Now Faroese suppliers gain access to new markets and consumers. According to the MSC approval, all cod and haddock caught after 9th June 2021 is now internationally recognised as being sustainably caught.
Minister of Fisheries Jacob Vestergaard announced in July 2020 that the Faroese authorities would follow a scientifically based management plan in setting the maximum number of fishing days for demersal fisheries. This was implemented in a Executive Order in December 2020 setting the number of fishing days for 2021. Thus, the Minister of Fisheries implemented a recommendation by a working group with members from the industry and the research environment.
‘Our objective is to manage fishing stocks under Faroese sovereignty in such a manner, that the future generations can obtain the same benefits from our sea resources as the current generations,’ Jacob Vestergaard said.
‘I therefore chose to implement a system with a management plan based on scientific advice for each fish species, where we in a systematic manner follow the scientific advice to ensure sustainable fisheries. It is very satisfying to see that these efforts already pay off with this recognition by the MSC. This benefits all parties, since the world demands sustainably caught fish products, while we need the income from the fish exports.’
‘The Faroese fishing industry contacted us in 2019 initiating the process to certify the Faroese fisheries as sustainable according to international standards,’ explained MSC’s Gísli Gíslason.
‘The background was that the Faroese authorities had decided to implement a management plan for setting the maximum number of fishing days based on scientific advice. So Faroese society has chosen to comply with scientific recommendations in managing their fish stocks. Our experts have reviewed the data, recommendations, and the fishery management systems with respect to our three main principles. The process has been thorough but now we have finalised the certification process and approved the fisheries as sustainable. I also applaud that the Faroese industry has organised themselves in an organisation FISF, which administers their international certifications. This will for sure speed up the development and knowledge sharing in the industry,’ he said.
FISF has represented the Faroese industry in the process of certifying the Faroese fisheries as sustainable.
‘Our co-operation with MSC has been very satisfactory,’ said FISF CEO Durita í Grótinum.
‘The MSC has a lot of formal requirements to the fisheries and the fisheries management system to meet their principles. That we have been able to achieve this goal is because the Faroese authorities have listened to experts to implement a management plan. It is vital that we follow through in accordance to the management plan for the different fish species to preserve the MSC certification. It has also been vital that the Faroese Marine Research Institute has internationally recognised scientists, who foster scientific confidence in the Faroese fisheries management system.’