The suspension follows a decision by ICES, the intergovernmental scientific organisation responsible for monitoring fish stocks, that the West of Scotland and West of Ireland herring stocks should be treated as a single, inseparable stock.
The combined stock is below sustainable levels and therefore no longer meets the MSC’s requirements for a sustainable fish stock. SPSG West of Scotland herring caught after midnight on Friday 12 February 2016 cannot be labelled as MSC certified.
The SPSG now has 90 days to prepare an action plan to address the conditions that relate to addressing issues around harvest strategy and control rules. In order to prevent the certificate from being withdrawn.
Fishermen not at fault
Claire Pescod, Fisheries Outreach Manager for the MSC explained: “MSC certification has to take account of developments and improvements in fisheries science. Scientific advice that can recommend an increase in quotas can also recommend a decrease. In this case, the Scottish fishermen will have their certificate suspended through no direct fault of their own. Hopefully, the herring stock in the combined fisheries will be able to recover to the point where the certificate can be reinstated.”
Ian Gatt, from the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group commented: “Scottish pelagic fishermen have built a strong history of fishing sustainably with a wide range of MSC certified catches. The suspension of this certificate is a blow, however, we’re working hard to resolve the situation by collecting additional scientific data and we will input into the recovery plan for this larger area.”