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Danish Sandeel, Norway Pout and Sprat fishery achieves MSC certification

March 27, 2017

The Danish Fishermen's Producers' Organisation (DFPO) and The Danish Pelagic Producers Organisations (DPPO) sandeel, Norway pout and sprat fishery has achieved certification to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard. The MSC Fisheries Standard reflects international best practice in sustainable fishing and requires a full science-based assessment of a fishery’s operations, as well as stakeholder input. These low trophic level fisheries play an important role in sustaining marine ecosystem and it is therefore vital that they are managed sustainably. The certification verifies that these fisheries operate in a way which will preserve marine habitats, ecosystems and fish stocks for the future.

Camiel Derichs, Regional Director for Europe at MSC says: “The certification of these North Sea fisheries marks a milestone for the Danish fishing industry. By investing in effective management, research and science, Danish fisheries are ensuring the sustainability of their catch, safeguarding seafood supplies and preserving marine environments. The certification of the reduction fishery means that they can now also support responsible aquaculture production.”

The average Danish landings between 2012 and 2016 was 123,000 tonnes for sandeel, totaled 155,000 tonnes for sprat and 26,000 tonnes of Norway pout. Denmark’s total MSC certified catch is around 580,000 tonnes, coming from 20 different stocks and amounting to approximately 88% of its total wild seafood landings*.

Sustainable management

The third-party assessment team, employed by MRAG Americas, found that stocks of sandeel, Norway pout and sprat in the North Sea are sustainably managed. Stocks of these small fish species can fluctuate significantly, in response to environmental factors such as food availability and predation. Therefore, the fishery has introduced more robust management measures, with clear scientific advice to reduce or even close the fisheries when stocks become low. These measures also limit fishing when stocks are high to prevent overfishing. This scientific advice has been followed carefully resulting in significant reductions in catch over the last decade.

Recognising that further improvements are still possible, the fishery will need to deliver several improvements as conditions of certification.  The action plan agreed by the DFPO/DPPO is expected to deliver well-defined harvest control rules these species,, further improving management of these important stocks.

Esben Sverdrup-Jensen, CEO of the DPPO says: “This MSC certification recognises the great efforts and commitment that the fisheries organisations in cooperation with scientists and authorities have put into attaining sustainable and well managed fisheries for sandeel, sprat and Norway pout. We target 13 different fish stocks – with this certification 95% of all DPPO landings are now MSC certified. We will continue to work on strengthening the cooperation between the fisheries, managers and scientists to provide a better foundation for the management of fish stocks and ultimately reach our target of 100% MSC certification.”

Fishmeal and fish oil production

The sandeel, Norway pout and sprat caught by the DFPO and DPPO are almost exclusively processed, through a process known as reduction, into fishmeal and fish oil. With the growing role of aquaculture in meeting the world’s protein needs, finding sustainable sources of feed for farmed fish is of growing importance. This is reflected by growing demand for sustainable raw materials to supply responsible fish farms certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) standards. This certification increases the volume of MSC certified reduction catch by around 22% to approximately 1,600 million tonnes.

Jonathan Broch Jacobsen, Sustainability Manager at DFPO says: “With the current rapid global growth in aquaculture, it is paramount that the environmental footprint of aquaculture is sustainable. By having our large reduction fisheries MSC certified, we contribute our part to this - and we raise the bar. Not only for our colleagues in other reduction fisheries around the world, but also for the producers of land based ingredients for aquaculture feeds.”

* According to 2016 landings.

Read about reduction fisheries and MSC requirements for low trophic species

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