The certification includes six pelagic trawlers and one processing vessel that catches and processes fish at sea. Under Icelandic fishing law, the processing vessel carries a scientific observer at all times. All of the herring catches included in the assessment are used for human consumption, with trimmings being used for fishmeal production. Sildarvinnslan hf is the country's largest catcher and processor of pelagic species and largest producer of fishmeal and oil.
Gunnthor Ingvason the CEO of Sildarvinnslan said: “This MSC certification is an important milestone for the herring industry as we now have both the fishery and our processing certified. It will strengthen the herring position in overseas markets and it gives our customers verification that we are utilizing the herring stocks sustainably. We look at this certification as a tool to strengthen our market position.”
The main European markets for the herring are: Poland, France, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus with Nigeria as biggest market in Africa. The fishmeal produced by Sildarvinnslan hf goes to feed producers, mainly in western Europe.
Gisli Gislason, MSC Manager for Iceland, Faroe Islands & Greenland said: “This is great news for the Icelandic pelagic industry. Samherji started and completed this assessment. After this process started, the Icelandic Sustainable Fisheries (ISF) were founded and ISF is the main client for MSC. Samherji is an ISF shareholder and intends to share the certificate with ISF. With wide and varied export markets, the globally-recognised MSC label will be a useful tool to market their herring as certified sustainable Icelandic fish.”
In the assessment, certifiers FCI praised the Icelandic management of the fishery which resulted in only two conditions of certification:
- A condition to develop formal harvest control rules during the certification
- A condition in relation to the management of the fishery's mackerel bycatch.