This is unprecedented: for the first time in the world, a seafood product sold live bears the MSC ecolabel from the moment it is captured until it reaches the consumer. The Normandie Fraîcheur Mer (NFM) specifications also mean that MSC-ecolabelled Cotentin and Jersey lobsters are also 100 per cent guaranteed to be extra fresh.
In Normandy, the blue European lobster is caught in pots by around 100 Lower-Normandy and Jersey vessels. Generally eight to twelve metres in size, with one to three men on board, these pot vessels capture around 370 tonnes a year across the entire fishing zone. The zone covers the vast Granville Bay up to the north of the Cotentin Peninsula, and the territorial waters of Jersey, boasting some highly reputed sectors, namely Chausey, Les Minquiers and Les Ecrehous.
The fishery is strictly controlled by a series of management measures, including fishing licences, a fixed regulatory capture size and quota and pot marking requirements. Scientific monitoring is carried out in France by the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) in collaboration with the Blainville-sur-Mer Sea and Coast Synergy Technical Centre (SMEL) and the Lower-Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee (CRPM-BN). In Jersey, this is done by the Fisheries and Marine Resources Environment and Planning Department.
"Practising sustainable fishing is all very well, but we need to make it known to the public," explains Véronique Legrand, Programme Coordinator of the Regional Fisheries Committee.
"After obtaining MSC certification, we soon came to ask ourselves how we could make this approach more visible to the entire industry, right to the end consumer, and we felt we needed to work on promoting the MSC ecolabel."
"This new bracelet gives the Cotentin and Jersey lobster fishermen and the MSC ecolabel visibility," confirms Edouard Le Bart, Manager of MSC France.
In France, awareness of this certification is fast spreading, even if it has not yet caught up with German and Scandinavian countries in this respect, where it has actually become a benchmark.
"The exceptional quality of these products combined with the displayed sustainable fishing certification, thanks to the MSC, will probably give lobster sales an advantage in France, and even abroad".
The ultimate goal is to open up new markets for Cotentin and Jersey lobster, and to gain recognition of this small-scale, traditional coastal fishing practice which respects the marine environment.