First Indian fishery up for MSC certification

The Ashtamudi Estuary short-neck clam fishery, a growing fishery in India, has just entered the assessment phase, seeking Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

If successful, it will be the first Indian fishery to get the MSC nod, and it will be one of a growing number of artisanal fisheries to get the certification. Independent certifier Intertek Moody Marine will conduct the assessment.

"I am delighted to welcome the Ashtamudi Estuary clam fishery into MSC assessment,” said Nicolas Guichoux, MSC’s global commercial director. “That an artisanal fishery, with support from NGO partners, has chosen to pursue MSC certification is confirmation that MSC is increasingly relevant across all fishing sectors, and I wish them all the best with their assessment."

The fishery’s practices will be measured by the MSC standards for sustainability, and the fishery has been getting help preparing for the assessment from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

"We started making improvements with support from WWF in 2010, using the MSC Standard as a sustainability measure that we could work towards,” said The Convenor of the Ashtamudi Clam Council in Kollam. “The challenges we’ve had to overcome in order to be ready for full assessment have been manageable, and we hope that other small-scale fisheries can learn from us that it is achievable.”

Fishers harvest the clams in the fishery by diving and hand dredging from dug-out canoes, with no mechanical intervention. Products from the fishery are exported as frozen raw, frozen cooked, fresh cooked, fresh raw, freeze-dried and dehydrated to markets in Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.


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