Danish North Sea cod receives MSC certification

With its stocks returning to levels last seen in the early 1980s, Denmark’s North Sea cod fishery has benefited from reforms intended to heal it from a history of overfishing.

Those efforts resulted in the announcement last week that the fishery has achieved certification from the Marine Stewardship Council as sustainable. Independent certification firm Acoura Marine found in its stock assessment that the fishery is recovering well, with enough mature fish to allow continued growth, along with reduced catches.

“The MSC certification of the North Sea cod clearly demonstrates that the fish stock is moving in a positive direction,” World Wildlife Fund Denmark Fisheries and Aquaculture Manager Christoph Mathiesen said. “This is a very iconic fishery and we are delighted to see that it meets the MSC requirements, and hope that the fishery will continue its journey towards increased sustainability through the conditions attached to this fishery.”

The North Sea cod fishery was certified in large part due to the efforts of the Danish Fishermen’s Producers’ Organization, according to an MSC press release. The DFPO’s successful implementation of a long-term recovery plan, involving catch reductions, in-depth research and analysis and careful management of the fishery has resulted in market improvements, MSC said.

“The DFPO has been instrumental in driving improvements of the North Sea cod stock and it is timely that the management and fishery gets the credit they deserve for this success story,” said Minna Epps, director of Marine Stewardship Council in Scandinavia.

The DFPO North Sea cod fishery has been certified as an extension to the already-certified DFPO North Sea and Skagerrak saithe fishery. While only the newly added cod stock was evaluated in the Acoura assessment, the entire fishery, including both cod and saith, will be fully reassessed in 2017, according to MSC. The fishery must maintain sustainable levels of cod catch and populations in order to sustain certification, MSC said.

Svend-Erik Andersen, president of the DFPO, said the certification is a victory for his organization.

“We are very proud to be the first mover in getting cod in the North Sea and the Skagerrak MSC certified. The MSC certification is the gold standard for sustainability in fisheries,” Andersen said. “The stock has been growing steadily over the last decade and our fishermen have been prudent in their fishery patterns using more and more selective fishing gears.”

In its press release, the MSC said high demand for its certified cod will reap dividends for DFPO members. In addition to domestic consumption in Denmark, DFPO fishers also export their cod to Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom as fresh and frozen fillets. The Danish fishery catches approximately 9,000 metric tonnes of cod annually.


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