The herring, sprat and sardine fisheries join a growing number of northern Europe pelagic fisheries seeking MSC certification and, if successful, the sprat fishery will be the first certified sprat fishery. The fishery
The Celtic Sea is an area of the north east Atlantic Ocean extending from the Irish south coast to Brest in northern France. It runs from the western end of the English and Bristol Channels to the edge of the continental shelf.
The fishery is currently in the later stages of a recovery plan following a collapse of the herring stock during the late 1990's. Following the introduction of spawning area closures, a ban on roe fishing and severe quota restrictions, the Celtic Sea herring stock is expected to have reached full recovery by 2012.
The CSHMAC represents 42 vessels using pelagic pair trawls and ranging from 9 – 35 metres long. The CSHMAC vessel group catches 90 per cent of Ireland’s quotas for the species with total landings in 2010 around 7,900MT. Most of the landings go to markets in Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Russia with products that include frozen fillets, dressed herring, whole frozen herring, pickled fillets and ‘roll mops’.
Gavin Power of the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation and Chairman of the CSHMAC, states "The committee is delighted to announce the entry of these fisheries into the MSC assessment process. The growing recognition of MSC certification for sustainably managed fisheries means that our herring, sprat and sardine fisheries will be best placed in future years, providing assurance to customers and consumers on the highest standards of sustainable fishing practices. It is our view that MSC certification will deliver the best possible reward for good practice for fishermen involved in these fisheries and help secure strategic market share for certified product in future years. We look forward to working with the MSC, Food Certification International and other stakeholders to achieve this certification objective".
Toby Middleton, Country Manager for the MSC says: “I’m really pleased to see this fourth Irish fishery enter MSC assessment. Ireland is fast becoming one of the leading nations in certified sustainable fisheries. The MSC programme is designed to recognise and reward sustainable fishing practices. I will be attending the Irish Skipper Expo in March and I look forward to meeting representatives of this fishery – and other fishermen interested in the benefits that MSC certification might bring.”