Offshore halibut fishery in Greenland lands MSC approval

Greenland’s offshore fishery for halibut, located in West Greenland, was awarded with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for being sustainable and well-managed on 23 May. 

Of great importance to company Royal Greenland and to the country of Greenland in general, the offshore halibut fishery’s certification will allow for customer demands to be met in stride, according to Royal Greenland Corporate Sustainability and CSR Manager Lisbeth Due Schönemann-Paul.

"We are really proud and happy with the certification of the offshore fishery for Greenland halibut in West Greenland. With the certification we will be able to meet the demand for certified Greenland halibut among our customers," Schönemann-Paul said. 

Fishermen, Royal Greenland, industry and Greenlandic authorities banded together with Sustainable Fisheries Greenland to achieve the certification, which covers four trawlers, including Royal Greenland's vessels Sisimiut and Tuugaalik. 

The halibut fishery, which is exists predominantly in waters near to Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait off the West Greenlandic coast, has been up and running since the 1960s, and is managed by the Greenlandic self-rule government. All parties fishing on the annual quota set by the government are obligated to keep a log and observe their catches. Furthermore, the fishery is carried out according to the "move-on" principle, “meaning that if bycatch exceeds 10 percent or corals or sea sponges are observed, the fishing vessels move to a different fishing area,” explained Royal Greenland. 

Greenland fishing companies are obligated to land part of their catches, which translates into 25 percent of offshore catches being landed locally and processed at factories along the coast of West Greenland.

“The factories are, among other things, making filets for European markets,” said Royal Greenland. “The remaining part of the catch are fileted onboard the trawlers or frozen either whole or headed and gutted. Whole fish are often sold to Asia as finished goods or for further processing locally.”

The certification is valid for the entire 2017 season, and Royal Greenland plans to roll out products with the MSC’s blue ecolabel on the packaging starting in fall of this year.


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