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Maatjes Sustainability Certified

by Ellen Hardy
17 June 2008, at 1:00am

SWEDEN - The Astrid Fiske North Sea herring fishery - Swedens prized maatjes herring fishery - has been certified as a sustainable and well managed fishery following a 14-month assessment by independent specialist fisheries and seafood certifier Food Certification International.

Subject to Marine Stewardship Council’s traceability certification, maatjes herring from the fishery are now eligible to carry the coveted MSC eco-label.

Maatjes are natural fermented and cured herring which can be eaten raw. They are a Dutch speciality sold in Netherlands as well as in Germany and Belgium.

As the fishery has an unusually short season – fishing from mid May for only six weeks – the certifier has back-dated the certificate to the publication date for the final report – a process allowed under the MSC standard. As a result, all of this season’s fish currently curing will be eligible to carry the MSC ecolabel. In total the fishery catches around 3,000 metric tonnes of herring per year.

Every step in the supply chain will be certified under the MSC’s Chain of Custody traceability programme to assure customers that the MSC ecolabelled maatjes on sale can be traced all the way back to the Astrid Fiske vessels.

Maatjes bearing the MSC ecolabel will be on sale in Super de Boer shops in the Netherlands. Caspar Woolthuis, Corporate Quality and Sustainability Manager for Super de Boer, says: "We are very pleased to be able to offer MSC maatjes to our customers as a result of a classic example of co-operation with NGO’s, MSC and all suppliers in the supply chain. It is a major step in our effort to make our assortment of fishery products more sustainable."

Super de Boer – supplied by Mayonna – is a member of the Dutch Association of Food Retail (Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelenhandel, CBL) that announced its commitment to sourcing all of its fish from MSC sources by 2011 in December last year.

Peter Hamaker, managing director for Mayonna, says: "Maatjes bearing the distinctive blue MSC eco-label will be distributed in Netherlands by Mayonna, part of the Kennemervis Groep." Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the Marine Stewardship Council says: "I am delighted that the Astrid Fiske North Sea herring fishery has been certified.

"This is a very selective fishery that avoids catching other species of fish and will be cooperating with specialists from the Swedish board of fisheries on research and observer coverage on boats as a result of its certification.

"As a result it has scored highly against MSC principles 2 – environment – and 3 – fishery management and fishing practice with an overall score of 91 for both. This is the third Swedish fishery to be certified but it is the fourth herring fishery and I very much hope its MSC certification will create new market opportunities for Astrid Fiske AB both within Sweden and more extensively through the rest of Scandinavia and Europe as demand for MSC certified and labelled product continues to grow exponentially."

Ellen Hardy