The Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group’s (SPSG) West of Scotland herring fishery will be certified as sustainable and well-managed under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) flagship standard at a ceremony in Brussels tomorrow (25 April), underlining the Scottish pelagic sector’s commitment to sustainable harvesting and environmental responsibility.
Herring harvested from this fishery will now be eligible to bear the prestigious MSC eco-label so that consumers can make informed choices when purchasing herring. The assessment was carried out by independent certifier Food Certification International (FCI) and is the latest in a series of MSC awards to be achieved by the Scottish pelagic sector.
Since 2009 the Scottish pelagic industry has secured MSC certification for all its main fisheries with tomorrow’s presentation being the third herring fishery to achieve this prized eco-label certification. The award will be presented to SPSG by EC Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki at the Seafood Scotland stand at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels.
SPSG pelagic trawlers fitted with the latest refrigerated seawater tank systems harvest West of Scotland herring along the north coast of Scotland and out to the west of the Hebrides. The UK is the largest stakeholder in this fishery at 59% and has a quota of 13,400 tonnes for 2012. The fishery takes place during the summer months, but mostly in August.
SPSG Chairman, John Goodlad, said: “This final certification is very important for the Scottish pelagic industry. Not only does it mean that 98% of Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group’s catches of almost 220,000 tons is now MSC certified, but it is also illustrative of the incredible journey the pelagic industry has travelled over the past seven years.
“SPSG is committed to environmental responsibility and it was within this context that we embarked upon a programme of sustainability all these years ago. The last piece in the sustainability jigsaw has now been secured and the Scottish pelagic industry is today rightly recognised a world leader in environmental responsibility.”
SPSG Secretary, Ian Gatt, said: “Achieving certification for our West of Scotland herring fishery is a significant milestone for the group, which now means all our herring catches can be marketed utilising the MSC eco-label.
“Achieving this standard will also provide a major boost for the marketing of high quality West of Scotland herring into prime markets. Although this completes the loop in terms of certifying all our main fisheries, the work does not finish here. The SPSG North Sea herring MSC certification expires in 2013, and in order to provide a seamless transition, SPSG will shortly be entering this fishery again for re-assessment.
“Food Certification International was excellent to work with throughout the assessment process and one again has delivered certification on time and within budget. I would also like to thank the Scottish Fishermen’s Trust, Aberdeenshire Council and Shetland Islands Council for their financial support.”
Claire Pescod, MSC Fisheries Outreach Manager, UK and Ireland, said: “Firstly I’m delighted once again to be congratulating SPSG on what is now their third fishery certificate for herring. I’m delighted that the MSC process supports a really strong case for their business in meeting the increasing market demand for certified seafood. This phenomenal drive for MSC certification across their herring fisheries typifies the SPSG’s long-standing commitment to demonstrably sustainable fishing.
“All three herring fisheries are now certified giving SPSG a consolidated MSC certified offer to the market. That’s great news for their customers, great news for consumers and great news for the seas.”
Martin Gill, Chief Executive of FCI, said: “As always, it is a pleasure to work with SPSG. Their experience gained during their previously successful North Sea and Atlanto-Scandian herring assessments, and the systems implemented to ensure compliance has helped ensure that this latest assessment has proceeded smoothly to a successful outcome. We look forward to working with SPSG towards the re-certification of their North Sea herring fishery in 2013. ”
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