First Baltic cod fishery earns MSC certification

The Danish Fishermen’s Producer Organization Denmark (DFPO) Eastern Baltic cod fishery on Tuesday was certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, making it the first Baltic cod fishery to do so.

The year-round fishery, which uses demersal trawls and longlines to catch cod in the Baltic Sea east of Bornholm, was close to collapse a few years ago but has made a remarkable recovery and in August 2009 the DFPO entered the fishery into MSC assessment. The certification brings the DFPO one step closer to its goal of having all Danish fisheries MSC certified before the end of 2012.

“The recent history of the Eastern Baltic cod fishery is a roller-coaster ride worthy of a Hollywood film. Twenty-five years ago, it was a booming fishery upholding the entire economy of the isolated island of Bornholm, which is situated in the middle of the fishing grounds,” said DFPO President Kurt Madsen. “Then the cod stock fell rapidly to levels where it could only barely sustain a fishery at all. Now, only seven years after the absolute low-point, the Danish Eastern Baltic cod fishery is the first cod fishery in the EU to be able to say that it is an MSC certified sustainable fishery — thanks to once again a thriving stock and sound management.”

The DFPO originally entered three gear types for assessment, but the set-net component poses a risk of harbor porpoise bycatch. While no such bycatch has ever been reported, the level of independent verification was not considered sufficient to pass the fishery against the MSC principles for endangered and protected species. The DFPO is working on the issue and will reapply for certification as soon as it is resolved.


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