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Danish North Sea cod receives MSC certification

September 9, 2016

The Danish North Sea cod fishery has achieved long awaited MSC certification. The certification recognizes that cod caught by members of the Danish Fishermen Producer Organisation (DFPO) comes from a well-managed fishery and that fishing practices meet the MSC’s robust requirements for sustainability.

We are very proud to be the first mover in getting cod in the North Sea and the Skagerrak MSC certified. The MSC certification is the gold standard for sustainability in fisheries,” says Svend-Erik Andersen, President of the DFPO.

A success story

North Sea cod has long been a concern for fishermen, politicians and scientists alike. Over the last decade however, the cod stock in the North Sea has seen significant improvements. A long term recovery plan, involving reductions in catch, improved research and analysis and careful management of the fishery has resulted in year-on-year growth in the cod population. Cod stocks have now reached the same level as in the early 1980’s.

The stock has been growing steadily over the last decade and our fishermen have been prudent in their fishery patterns using more and more selective fishing gears.adds Andersen.

The independent certification body, Acoura Marine responsible for assessing the fishery to the MSC Fisheries Standard found that the cod stock is recovering well, with enough mature fish to allow continued growth. This was confirmed in the 2016 stock assessment which shows a continuing upwards trend in the number of cod, along with reduced catches. 

The DFPO has been instrumental in driving improvements of the North Sea cod stock and it is timely that the management and fishery gets the credit they deserve for this success story,” says Minna Epps, Director of Marine Stewardship Council in Scandinavia.

Continued positive developments

Over the next five years, in order to maintain its MSC certification, the fishery has committed to deliver further actions to ensure the long term sustainability of North Sea cod. Its MSC certification requires the fishery to ensure that cod catches are at long-term sustainable levels and to implement an effective rebuilding strategy, along with a robust and precautionary harvest strategy. Progress on delivering these conditions will be monitored annually.

“The MSC certification of the North Sea cod clearly demonstrates that the fish stock is moving in a positive direction. This is a very iconic fishery and we are delighted to see that it meets the MSC requirements, and hope that the fishery will continue its journey towards increased sustainability through the conditions attached to this fishery,” says Christoph Mathiesen, Program Manager, Fisheries and Aquaculture, WWF Denmark

Fresh MSC certified North Sea cod

High demand for MSC certified cod, and increasingly for fresh cod, means that Danish consumers and retailers will welcome the MSC certification of DFPO North Sea cod. DFPO fishers also export their cod to Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK as fresh and frozen fillets. The Danish fishery catches approximately 9,000 tonnes annually.

The DFPO North Sea cod fishery is certified as an extension to the already certified DFPO North Sea and Skagerrak Saithe Fishery. This is a mixed fishery where the cod is caught along with saithe and other species. Therefore, only the new components added to the fishery – i.e. the cod stock – has been evaluated in this assessment.

The fishery (including both cod and saithe) is due to be fully reassessed to the MSC Fisheries Standard in 2017. The agreed milestones for improvements by the cod fishery will be absorbed as part of this reassessment.

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