Norwegian inshore haddock loses MSC certification; Offshore cod certification under review

Published on
April 28, 2021

Planned changes to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of the Northeast Arctic cod and haddock fisheries have seen haddock caught in Norway’s inshore waters lose its certification, the nonprofit has confirmed.

At the same time, Norges Fiskarlag’s Northeast Arctic cod certification for both inshore and offshore (inside and outside 12 nautical miles of shore) has been temporarily extended until 3 May, while offshore-caught haddock (outside 12 nautical miles) has been handed a new five-year MSC certification.

The temporary extension, granted a week at a time, will allow for a formal objection related to the recertification of offshore cod to be independently explored.

In a press release, MSC explained that previous certifications included the inshore and offshore stocks of Northeast Arctic cod and haddock, but the fishery decided to apply for the reassessment for offshore only. 

“From 26 April, the offshore haddock catch remains MSC certified, while the inshore element is no longer part of the certificate. Both inshore and offshore cod has a certificate extension to 3 May, due to an objection raised to the recertification off offshore cod,” it said. 

MSC also clarified that in the final stage of assessment to its fishery standard, stakeholders can raise an objection to the independent assessor’s report, which recommends if a fishery should or should not be certified by the MSC.

While the independent adjudicator decides whether to accept or reject the objection, or ask for more information, the cod fishery’s certification is being extended one week at a time, it said. MSC is independent of both the assessment and objection processes.

“As the current certification for both inshore and offshore cod has been extended until 3 May 2021, the fishery’s catch will remain MSC-certified until then. It could be extended again while the independent adjudicator reviews the objection to the offshore cod side of the fishery. If the objection is accepted, it is standard practice for the MSC to extend certification by six months,” MSC Senior Program Manager in the North Atlantic Gisli Gislason said. “The fishery decided to withdraw its inshore cod and haddock catch from MSC certification while it works with Norway’s management agencies to find a way to reduce its bycatch of coastal cod from 5 percent to 2 percent. From the start of its MSC certification in 2011, the inshore fishery has been tasked with finding a solution to this issue, and we hope it is making some progress on this front.” 

Earlier in April, Norges Fiskarlag (the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association) confirmed it had been made aware that a formal protest to the recertification of offshore cod had been submitted to MSC, and that an independent adjudicator would assess whether it merits further assessment.

Until then, the association and certifier Det Norske Veritas (DNV) had not been formally made aware of the protest's content nor the sender.

“As for the status and possible future outcomes for the protest case for cod fishing outside 12 nautical miles, the Fishermen's Association may be able to comment further when we have been presented with the case from MSC,” Norges Fiskarlag Senior Adviser Tor Bjørklund Larsen said.  

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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