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Welsh Mussels Become MSC Certified

Sustainability +1 more

WALES, UK - Bangor mussels will stand out from the crowd this week after the Bangor Mussel Producers fishery was certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery. The certificate means that subject to traceability certification mussels from Bangor will be able to bear the coveted MSC ecolabel.

The North Menai Strait mussel fishery is an enhanced fishery where the two boats – Valente and Mare Gratia – use small dredges to catch young ‘seed’ mussels from the beds where they accumulate and then relay them on leased areas inside the Menai Strait where they thrive.

The mussels start off at an intertidal zone (that dries out on most tides) to develop thick shells that will protect them against predators. Over the next 9-18 months, they are moved to progressively deeper waters that rarely get exposed by the tides until, eventually, they are moved to deeper water in denser colonies where they can feed constantly and build up their body mass into a fat, juicy mussel. Once the mussels have reached a suitable size, the fishermen re-catch them and sell them to the market.

The fishery scored highly for its stock status with the certifier noting that the fishery had a negligible or potentially positive impact on mussel stocks.

Elin Jones, Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Rural Affairs said: "I am very pleased that the Bangor Mussel Fishery has received the coveted MSC ecolabel. Certification is global recognition of a sustainable and well managed fishery, which the Welsh Assembly Government has been supportive of in recent years, providing funding for harvesting operations and advice. The fishery is of huge importance to the local and Welsh economy, and its products are in demand and growing in reputation throughout Europe, as recognised by the fishery's recent True Taste Award for Welsh Export Achievement from the Welsh Assembly Government.

“I am sure certification will enable the fishery to go from strength to strength. Indeed my officials look forward to working closely with the Bangor Mussel Producers receiving their European Fisheries Fund bid for processing of mussels in North Wales, allowing greater access for the Welsh consumer to this fantastic product.”

James Wilson of Deepdock Ltd said “We are all very proud, in the Menai Straits, to be the UK’s first enhanced fishery to achieve this benchmark certification. It reflects, very positively, on our long term commitment to research and the very good working relationships that we have established with fishery managers and the statutory conservation agencies.”

Kim Mould of Myti Mussels Ltd added: “Our customers are increasingly demanding that we can supply certified sustainable products. The Marine Stewardship Council ecolabel is the most widely recognized and established manifestation of this globally for marine fish and shellfish. We are very pleased and excited to be the UK’s first enhanced fishery to have passed muster.”