Southeast Asia nets first MSC fishery


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
November 9, 2009

 Vietnam's Ben Tre clam harvest on Tuesday was awarded Marine Stewardship Council sustainability certification, Southeast Asia's first fishery to earn the distinction.

Ben Tre hardshell clams (Meretrix lyrata) are harvested by hand using metal rakes and mesh sacks. The clams are sold to the domestic market and exported to Japan, China, Taiwan, Europe and the United States.

Covering a 65-kilometre area and containing more than 4,800 hectares of protected mangroves, the fishery is operated by local cooperatives. Support is provided to the cooperatives by the Ben Tre People's Committee and the Ben Tre Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). Ben Tre DARD and the World Wildlife Fund co-sponsored the fishery in the MSC certification process.

"Although our clams are largely familiar to the EU market, we are still thinking of ways to better promote our business overseas," said Tran Thi Thu Nga, vice director of Ben Tre DARD. "MSC certification gives us the right to promote our products with the credible MSC eco-label to customers worldwide."

"I am delighted to hear that certification is already bringing benefits to the communities who depend upon this sustainable resource and very much hope other Vietnamese fisheries will soon come forward into the third-party assessment process," added MSC CEO Rupert Howes.

Ben Tre clams are the 59th fishery worldwide to earn MSC certification. More than 150 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program, including more than 100 in full assessment and 40 to 50 in confidential pre-assessment. Worldwide, more than 2,500 seafood products bear the MSC eco-label.

Three fisheries have earned MSC certification in just the past month — Ben Tre clams, trawl-caught Pacific whiting and Japanese pole- and line-caught skipjack tuna.

Also in the past three weeks, the MSC has announced plans to expand its presence in the France and China.

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