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Danish North Sea Sole Fleet Achieves MSC Certification

DENMARK - Ninety-five per cent of the Danish North Sea sole fleet was certified as sustainable against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) environmental standard for sustainable and well managed fisheries.

The certification process of this fishery, which is led by the members of the Danish Fishermens Producer Organisation (DFPO), is part of the ambitious plan to secure MSC certification for all Danish fisheries before the end of 2012.

DFPO has already obtained MSC certification for its North Sea saithe and plaice fisheries as well as its eastern Baltic cod fishery and its North Sea hake and haddock fisheries are currently in full assessment. Currently, 72 per cent of their fisheries have earned MSC certification.

DFPO registered vessels operate all year-round in the central eastern North Sea, which has a one of the highest concentrations of sole (Solea solea). They use two different gear types demersal trawl and set nets to catch approximately 500 tonnes of sole annually. The fishery is managed by the EU Member States through a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) system. At sea and landings, inspections of the fishery are carried out by the Danish Fisheries Directorate.

The fishery will continue to make improvements throughout the duration of the certificate, which lasts five years provided successful audits illustrating that they are implementing/meeting the conditions set out, such as rebuilding strategies and evidence that the sole stock is rebuilding continuously. The fishery will work with relevant stakeholders to reduce the exploitation rate to an even lower target level, as well as provide clear information regarding its impacts on the seabed.

The MSC certification means that buyers and consumers all over Europe now can chose our sole and know that they contribute to a sustainable future when it comes to fish and fish products. That feels great, says Kurt S Madsen, chairman, Danish Fishermens Producers Organisation.

Minna Epps, regional manager, Baltic Sea, congratulates the fishery on obtaining certification, saying: The DFPO should be commended for opening up their practices to such a transparent and rigorous assessment and for their commitment to have all their fisheries engaged in the MSC programme by the end of this year. And we hope that other countries will follow suit.

Danish sole is sold fresh, chilled and frozen across Europe but most of the volume ends up in Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Italy.

Lucy Towers

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