MSC Label Could Bring Price Premium to SPSG Mackerel


Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
February 3, 2009

Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG) mackerel could fetch a price premium now that the fishery has been certified under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) program, according to SPSG and MSC officials.

The SPSG, which harvested some 95,700 metric tons of fish in 2007, supplies about 75 percent of the United Kingdom's mackerel catch.

"This is a welcome boost and further evidence that one of our most valuable stocks is being managed sustainably," said Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead, adding that mackerel was worth almost GBP 80 million (USD 114 million, EUR 88.7 million) last year.

The blue MSC eco-label, which could appear on smoked, frozen and fresh SPSG mackerel on the supermarket shelves in around two months, ensures a fishery is well-managed and sustainable.

"Every fish that you buy with the MSC eco-label can be traced back to the fish in the sea," an MSC spokesperson told SeafoodSource.

Additionally, industry feedback suggests that MSC-certified products receive a price premium.

Some Marine Stewardship Council-certified fisheries have seen prices of their products that are 10 to 45 percent higher than prices of seafood caught by non-certified fisheries, according to the MSC.

In terms of the cost of certification, that "depends on the complexity of the fishery," said the spokesperson.

Costs can range from about $20,000 for a small fishery to $170,000 for large outfits with multiple fisheries.

"We calculated that the cost of MSC certification for the Alaska salmon fishery, [which] has 16 different units, is less than one-tenth of a cent per pound of fish," according to the MSC.

The Alaska salmon fishery harvests more than 160 million fish a year and in 2000 was the first U.S. fishery and third worldwide to achieve MSC certification.

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