Fishing with bottom trawls, pair trawls and Scottish seines, the certified fishery includes around 230 Scottish vessels catching around 10,000 tonnes of saithe each year. As part of the certification, and underlining the SFSAG’s commitment to sustainability, the fishery has committed to 10 further actions to improve environmental performances from current sustainable levels, to global best practice.
One of these actions will help to protect a recently-discovered bed of cold water corals by ensuring that the fishing vessels continue to avoid the East Mingulay Reefs area, currently proposed as a Scottish Conservation Area.
In their report, the Certifiers also praised the approach taken by the Scottish Government in developing a marine planning system in an open, transparent and consultative way as the best way of resolving potentially controversial decisions.
Mike Park, Chair of SFSAG said: “Whilst the Scottish fleet continues to work hard on its environmental credentials and to demonstrate a firm commitment to sustainability, we don’t always get the acknowledgement we deserve. MSC allows us to obtain recognition in a way the consumer can grasp; they know their choice is sustainable because of the MSC logo.
“We operate in a global market that demands a sustainable certified product, and we must continue to be competitive and to ensure that we maintain our market share, whilst keeping the most important person in the supply chain happy. The consumer.“
Leading position on sustainability
Toby Middleton, Senior Country Manager for the MSC welcomed the certification: “This certification demonstrates the increasingly holistic approach that the Scottish whitefish fleet is taking towards mixed-species, multi-gear fisheries. It also underlines the commitment the Scottish industry has towards long-term ecosystem-based management and the leading position they are taking in ensuring best practice around the world.”
The certification is great news for consumers eager to buy a high-quality, economical whitefish and key retailers have already expressed an interest in stocking Scottish saithe with the MSC ecolabel in their stores.