Brown shrimp fishery scores MSC first

Published on
December 19, 2017

A collaboration among the North Sea’s fishermen, conservation NGOs, government bodies and scientists has resulted in certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for the region’s brown shrimp fishery, the certifier announced on 12 December during the Agricultural and Fisheries Council held in Brussels, Belgium.  

The fishery, which is comprised of 400 boats operating in Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, is the first of its kind for brown shrimp. The fishery’s annual landings of approximately 30,000 metric tons of shrimp account for around 90 percent of the total catch for the North Sea, establishing it as a staple sector in the area. Moreover, many of fishermen making up the business have been involved through their families for generations.

“My father and my grandfather were already fishing for shrimp and so is my son. That is what we call lived sustainability. It makes me very happy that the fishery achieved this certificate and thus now the official status of being sustainable,” said Dirk Sander, shrimp fisherman and member of the fishery’s steering committee.

Collaborative efforts to earn the fishery sustainability certification began in 2015, when a trilateral steering committee and an MSC project management group began developing a management plan for the fishery, the MSC said in a press release. Before the trilateral steering committee formed, there were no government-regulated fishing quotas or restrictions on fishing effort for the shrimp fishery. In response, the University of Hamburg and a working group, under the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), worked to establish a harvest control rule as a means to keep the stocks healthy. Once the certification process began, a coalition of eight conservation NGOs also contributed actively and constructively to the assessment outcome, the MSC said.

"The shrimp fishery certification shows that the MSC program works," MSC Program Director for the Benelux region, Hans Nieuwenhuis, said. "The fishermen have joined forces and put everything in place to scientifically understand and minimize the impact of shrimp fishing on the environment. All of this effort was aimed at obtaining MSC certification for sustainable fishing. At the heart of the effort is a harvest control rule that is already being put into practice. I take my hat off to all those who have united for this purpose, including the environmental groups who engaged constructively with the process."

Acoura Marine was the assessor for the certification. In coming years, “the fishery will have to fulfill several conditions…to maintain their MSC certificate,” with progression measured on an annual basis, the MSC said in its release.

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