First Icelandic fishery seeks MSC eco-label

The Marine Stewardship Council on Tuesday celebrated the first catch of a recently certified fishery and announced that three fisheries advanced in the MSC assessment process certifying fisheries as well managed and sustainable.

At the European Seafood Exposition, the Dutch Dover sole gillnet fishery, which obtained MSC certification last July, presented MSC CEO Rupert Howes with its first certified fish. The 60-vessel fishery yields about 200 metric tons of Dover sole annually, and its season runs from April through October.

The MSC announced that the Icelandic cod, haddock and wolffish fisheries have entered the assessment process — the first-ever Icelandic fisheries to pursue MSC certification.

Sæmark, one of Iceland’s largest seafood exporters, is serving as the MSC client. The assessment includes 23 vessels that supply four of Sæmark’s fish-processing partners: Fiskvinnslan Íslandssaga hf, Hraðfrystihús Hellissands hf, Oddi hf and Þórsberg ehf.

Iceland’s 2009-10 total allowable catch is set at 150,000 metric tons for cod, 63,000 metric tons for haddock and 12,000 metric tons for wolffish. The fisheries under assessment encompass 6,200 metric tons of Atlantic cod, 3,300 metric tons haddock and 1,100 metric tons of wolffish harvested by long line, handline and Danish seine. The fishery runs year-round mainly off the west and northwest coasts of Iceland.

Additionally, two harvests entered MSC full assessment: the Newfoundland herring purse-seine fishery and the western and central Pacific skipjack tuna fishery.

The assessment encompasses all herring purse seiners targeting Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) off the west coast of Newfoundland. The total allowable catch is set at 20,000 metric tons, and the purse seine fleet represents just over half (1,000 metric tons) of the total. The Barry Group is serving as the MSC client.

Nearly half of all skipjack tuna caught in the western and central Pacific is also in MSC full assessment. The fishery is managed by the eight-nation Parties to the Nauru Agreement and produces more than 560,000 metric tons of skipjack tuna. Fishermen use purse seine nets targeting free-swimming schools of tuna and do not use fish aggregating devises to attract tuna.

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