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Sustainable Cornish Sardines

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UK - Cornwalls iconic sardine fishery has passed its Marine Stewardship Council assessment and been certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery. The fishery which recently gained European geographic designation as Cornish Sardines can now add the MSC ecolabel to its products.

The Cornish sardine fishery first started a trial MSC assessment in 2008, in a pilot programme to develop a way for data deficient fisheries – often found in the developing world – to be able to achieve MSC certification . After performing well in the ‘Risk-Based framework’ assessment, Cornish sardines went on to pass the regular MSC assessment.

The Cornish sardine fleet currently consists of 6 vessels using ring nets and a further 10 vessels catching sardines with drift nets. Boats sail mainly from Newlyn and Mevagissey and stay in inshore waters – within six miles of land. The sardines they catch are significantly larger than the minimum size allowed and are proving popular with restaurants and retailers.

Nick Howell, Chairman of the Cornish Sardine Management Association says: “We are delighted that this traditional Cornish fishery has been certified by the MSC and of course that would not have been possible without the support of Marks & Spencer and Seafish who have both helped us with funding. “

Toby Middleton, UK Country Manager for the MSC says: “Cornish sardine is an iconic fishery and this certification represents a great deal of hard work and solid management by the Cornish Sardine Management Association. In the process of getting certified, the CSMA fishermen have also helped to pilot a process that will help fellow fishermen and women in the developing world to start to get their fisheries certified, bringing management and economic benefits that would, previously, have been unavailable to them.

CSMA members can feel justifiably proud of this certification and the work they have done to achieve it. I am confident that they will soon start to reap their rewards with interest in the fishery growing in national and international quarters.”

Jon Harman, Development Director for Seafish says: “Seafish helped fund the development of a tool to help assess the stock status of the data-deficient Cornish sardine fishery. We recognised the need to trial a tool, to an international standard, for fisheries facing challenges in the amount of data available. This was an important stepping stone to MSC certification and we are pleased that Cornish sardines have now been approved to MSC standard after being reviewed by this new process.”