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MSC Certification For Blue Shell Mussel Producers

NETHERLANDS - The Dutch Producers' Organisation Mussel Culture celebrate the 2011 mussel season with a special achievement: the fishery has been awarded MSC certification following an independent assessment against the MSC standard for sustainable fisheries.

Mussels from this fishery may now bear the blue MSC ecolabel, which gives customers assurance that the product is traceable to a certified sustainable source.

The Dutch mussel fishery has put a lot of effort in balancing fisheries and nature since the late 1990s and achieved positive changes to the fisheries management system. In 2009, the Dutch Producers' Organisation Mussel Culture was one of the first shellfish associations to receive a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and innovation in support of MSC assessment.

The Dutch blue shell mussel fishery is located in the Dutch coastal region of the Wadden Sea and Zeeland delta and comprises 65 fishing vessels.

Mussel seed fished from wild mussel beds or collected from off-bottom seed mussel catching installations are grown on cultivation lots on the seabed. The total landings in 2010/2011 were 56.6 million kilograms. The mussels are mainly sold to the Belgian, Dutch, French and German markets. The season for Dutch mussels runs from July to early April.

As a condition to the ongoing certification, the mussel fishermen have to present the results of an ongoing research project about the possible influence of the seed fishery on the long-term development of underwater habitats and on the impact of the suspended seed mussel collecting systems on the carrying capacity of the ecosystem.

This research project has been agreed upon as part a memorandum of understanding between the industry, environmental NGOs and the government, and is due for completion in 2014.

Hans van Geesbergen from the Dutch Producers' Organisation Mussel Culture is delighted to see the fisherys sustainable management being recognised by the MSC ecolabel: "We have worked hard for this achievement and cooperated successfully with environmental NGOs and the government."

"These joint efforts are now rewarded with the MSC certificate which allows us to provide retailers and consumers with our mussels that are not only of high quality but now also certified sustainable.

Nathalie Steins, MSC Manager Benelux, is also looking forward to see the first MSC certified mussels in the supermarkets: "The certification secures the agreement between sector, environmental organisations and the government to improve sustainable fisheries and helps to meet the growing demand for MSC certified shellfish in the Northern European market.

the Fish Site Editor

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