After dispute, largest European fishery regains MSC certification

Published on
May 12, 2016

The Scottish mackerel fishery, one of the Northeast Atlantic’s largest in volume, obtained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification on Wednesday, 11 May.

The certification was awarded to a multinational fishing cooperative known as the Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance (MINSA), which was founded in response to a quota allocation dispute in the Northeast Atlantic. That dispute resulted in the revocation of the MSC certification in 2012. MINSA reapplied for MSC certification after the three major partners in the fishery – the European Union, Norway and the Faroe Islands – came to an agreement on an international management framework.

Ian Gatt, the secretary of the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group and coordinator for MINSA, said more than 700 northern European mackerel fishing vessels from Scotland, Denmark, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France and Lithuania participated in the MSC certification, according to a press release. Together, they will catch an estimated 588,000 tons of mackerel in 2016.

“The fishing boats involved in the MSC certification range from small coastal handline vessels through to large ocean-going pelagic trawlers,” he said.

SPSG Chairman John Goodlad said mackerel was Scotland’s most important fishery in terms of value and volume, and the approval of MSC certification proved he sector’s determination to fish responsibly and ensure a sustainable future for the fishery.

“It is fantastic to see that the sustainable practices carried out in this iconic fishery have been recognised by achieving the much coveted MSC ecolabel,” Goodlad said. “MSC certification gives a clear message to consumers that the mackerel they buy is sustainably caught and comes from a responsible and well managed fishery.

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