Scottish nephrops withdraw from MSC process

Scotland’s North Sea Norwegian lobster fishery has withdrawn from the Marine Stewardship Council accreditation process.

The fishery, worth GBP 74 million in 2010,was  entered into the certification process by the Scottish Producer Organizations and Fishermen’s Associations in 2007.

The Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group (SFSAG) entered both the nephrops and haddock fisheries into the process, and the haddock fishery was certified in 2010.

However, the time taken to put the nephrops fishery through the process meant that it had to be reassessed against different criteria. Lack of a functional unit management of the nephrops stock was seen as a potential weakness by the assessment team, and provisional results indicated that the Fladen grounds would pass assessment, but no other areas would. Other areas would only receive the standard if the management of the quota by functional units was introduced.

SFSAG in the past has supported the concept of functional unit management, but not by functional unit TACs, considering the approach to be overly restrictive and unnecessary. The quota for the nephrops fishery is currently managed on a regional basis, with allocations made for a sea area as a whole.

The fisheries remain productive and each fishery has its own specific characteristics that assist in ensuring that overexploitation is unlikely. Other methods of fisheries unit management are being investigated by the group, including support for the emerging North Sea Regional Advisory Council Long Term Management Plan for Nephrops.

“While we are very disappointed that we have had to make the decision to withdraw from the MSC process, we are unanimous that the decision is correct,” said Iain MacSween, CEO of the Scottish Fishermen’s Organization. “The MSC assessment criteria simply do not take into account the reality of the situation for stocks such as this. I firmly believe that the NS Nephrops stock is healthy, a fact supported by the science, and that it is managed in a sustainable way.  SFO will continue to promote and sell NS Nephrops as a truly sustainable choice.”


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