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Barents Sea cod, haddock and saithe fishery continues to prove its sustainability

September 20, 2016

The Barents Sea fishery of cod, haddock and saithe has been recertified against the world’s most robust standard for environmentally sustainable fishing. A rigorous, third party assessment has shown that the cod, haddock and saithe fishery continues to meet the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Standard. As a result, any products from this fishery, may continue carrying the blue MSC label, identifying their origin from a sustainable source.

The re-certification of our fishery to MSC standard for sustainable fisheries is a proof that our strategy aimed at development of sustainable fishery is effective. We’ve played a leading role in promoting sustainable fishery values among other actors in fishery sector in Russia and worldwide. In five years of MSC certification we have managed to implement actions to close all six conditions set under initial MSC certification” says Sergey Sennikov, Chief Sustainability Officer of Ocean Trawlers.

After five years, fisheries in the MSC program have to go through the full assessment process again to ensure they are continuing to meet the MSC Fisheries Standard, and today the fishery is recertified for another five years.

"The re-certification of the Ocean Trawlers cod-haddock-saithe fisheries confirms the state of the art sustainability credentials of the Barents Sea whitefish fisheries. It is a recognition of the successful management of these stocks by the Joint Russian-Norwegian Fisheries Commission, as well as of the improvements made by Ocean Trawlers' in its first certification period, where new lower impact gears were tested, and sensitive habitat impact mitigation was achieved.” says Camiel Derichs, Regional Director for MSC Europe.

Minimizing impacts of fishing

The Barents Sea areas are often characterized by rich benthic habitat and the North East Arctic stock in the Barents Sea is considered one of the most important cod stocks. The ecosystem and the fishing activity in this area has therefore gained a lot of attention. The effects of fishing on the seabed is carefully analyzed during an MSC assessment, and the impact on habitats is taken very seriously.

The decision to certify this fishery with no conditions and several clear recommendations is based on our commitments to decrease impact of the fishery on vulnerable habitats and vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) in general. We expect that further implementation of the measures to protect VMEs will strengthen the sustainability of our fishery in future” adds Sennikov.

Independent assessment

The independent assessment of the fishery was conducted by Acoura, an accredited third-party conformity assessment body. Acoura assembled a team of fishery science and policy experts to evaluate the fishery according to the principles of the MSC Fisheries Standard. The assessment team provided four recommendations for this fishery concerning habitat impact that will be reviewed each surveillance audit. The fishery is already actively engaged to further develop their fishing practices to become even more sustainable, such as actively collaborating with PINRO and WWF to introduce less damaging (and more fuel efficient) trawl gear.

Fisheries management

The management of cod and haddock stocks is based on two bilateral treaties between Norway and Russia through the Joint Norwegian‐Russian Fishery Commission which regulates fishing, determining management measures and setting Total Allowable Catches (TAC), while the management of the saithe fishery is performed by Norway at the national level. Management is informed by ICES advice, supported nationally by the Institute of Marine Research (Norway) and PINRO (Russia). 

A huge market

The fishery is one of the world’s largest supplier of Atlantic cod and haddock from the North Atlantic, and is serving over 20 countries in 5 different continents. In 2014, the total amount of landings for this fishery for cod and haddock was 132 347 tonnes, where cod catches amounted to 86% of these. One of the fishery’s biggest market is Europe, where the blue MSC label is well recognized, and considered an important purchase driver for consumers*.

 *MSC’s global consumer survey

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