Greenland secures first MSC certification for whitefish, UK is main beneficiary

Published on
May 12, 2015

A Barents Sea cod, haddock and saithe fishery has become Greenland’s first finfish fishery to be awarded Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

The accreditation will mainly boost supplies of sustainable whitefish in the U.K. market, which currently imports around 80 percent of Greenland’s annual 12,000-metric ton (MT) catch of the Barents Sea fish, almost all of which is bought in fillet form.

The fish are targeted over four months of the year by three demersal trawler vessels — Sisimiut, Polar Princess and Ilivileq. These large, freezer trawlers are equipped with sorting grids to reduce catches of small fish and the fish are processed on board within a few hours.

The client group in this fishery comprises Royal Greenland, Polar Seafood Greenland and Arctic Prime Fisheries.

“Although several fisheries for these three species in the Barents Sea have already been certified, certain challenges occurred during the process. Now, however, we are ready to meet an increasing demand for certified products. The actors in the fishery have their chain-of-custody certification in place so that the main outcome of this year’s fishery will hit the market blue-labeled,” said Peder Munk Pedersen, Sustainable Fisheries Greenland (SFG) project coordinator.

The fishery’s total catch in 2013 was 12,075 MT, comprising 9,403 MT of cod, 1,578 MT of haddock and 972 MT of saithe.

This is the second Greenlandic fishery to achieve MSC certification after the West Greenland prawn fishery. All Greenlandic certification efforts are coordinated through SFG, which is also working toward MSC certification for the country’s lumpfish fishery.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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