Ten years ago Greenpeace held a mock funeral for the last cod in the sea, delivering an effigy of fish to the British prime minister’s residence. Now North Sea cod is entering the MSC assessment process.
There has been endless controversy over North Sea cod, a species that has become something of a totem for everything that has been wrong with fisheries management, marine science, the CFP, and so much else. Not that long ago, there were reports in the media, since discredited, that only a handful of mature cod were left in the North Sea. Cod has been the political football kicked between governments, NGOs and the fishing industry.
Ask green groups and you’d be told that cod are practically extinct. Ask a fisherman and you’ll be told that cod never went away – but the problem was that the scientists couldn’t find them, so officially they weren’t there. The truth of the matter undoubtedly lies somewhere between the two extremes, but cod has never been off the menu, in spite of the lurid scaremongering.
Now Seafish has brought together a coalition of fishing organisations, supermarkets and seafood brands to enter North Sea cod for MSC assessment.
This could be the ultimate test for cod as a positive independent assessment against the science-based MSC standard would confirms that North Sea cod is now sustainable and well-managed, and make it eligible to carry the MSC’s blue tick ecolabel for the first time.
‘The MSC standard is the most credible and robust benchmark there is for seafood sustainability, and the logical next step in demonstrating that North Sea cod is now sustainable,’ said Mike Park, chairman of the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group, a coalition of producer organisations and one trade body, which has already achieved MSC certification for North Sea haddock and northern saithe.
‘Getting to this point has required a huge commitment and personal sacrifice from Scottish fishermen, who have worked hard to recover North Sea cod,’ he added.