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North Sea Herring Fishery: MSC Re-certification

Sustainability Post-harvest +2 more

THE NETHERLANDS - The Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA) North Sea herring fishery is celebrating the start of its 2011 season with their successful re-certification against the MSC standard for sustainable fisheries.

Herring sourced from the fishery can now remain eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel. Issued by Moody Marine Ltd, the MSC certificate is valid for five years subject to surveillance audits.

The PFA North Sea herring fishery was the first large fishery in the EU to join to MSC programme. First certified in 2006, the PFA is committed to improving its sustainability and has voluntarily implemented various policies to promote sustainable fishing in its fleet, for example, implementing new technologies such as sophisticated sonar to further reduce bycatch.

PFA’s members catch around 70,000 metric tonnes of North Sea herring per year and its 25 freezer-trawlers operate under the Dutch, French, German, UK and Lithuanian flags.

During the herring season usually between eight and ten of these ships catch North Sea Herring. The fleet uses pelagic trawl nets to fish the North Sea and Eastern English Channel herring stock. All the herring is frozen and boxed on board and is mainly exported to Europe, North and West Africa.

Gerard van Balsfoort, PFA-president is pleased to see the sustainability of the North Sea herring fishery re-affirmed.

He said: “Over the past five years there has been an amazing development in the North Sea herring stock."

"North Sea herring experienced low recruitment rates, due to natural fluctuations, to which the management response was a radical reduction of the quota for a couple of years. We supported that approach and now we see a recovered stock in good shape and the fishing quotas are increasing again."

"The example of North Sea herring shows that it is possible to keep an MSC certificate as long as a fishery is willing to adapt its management to the variations in the stock,” he concluded.