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All Icelandic pelagic catch now MSC certified - 90% of all catch from Iceland is certified

Jan 18, 2018

The Icelandic Sustainable Fisheries, (ISF) Blue Whiting fishery has been certified by the Conformity Assessment Body DNV GL against the MSC Fisheries Standard.

The Icelandic vessels target blue whiting with pelagic gears in Icelandic, Faroese and international waters. Blue whiting is also targeted by Norway, the Faroe Islands and the EU. The situation in this fishery is similar to the North East Atlantic Atlanto Scandian herring and mackerel fisheries, where coastal states agree on total allowable (TAC) catch but have not recently managed to agree on how to share the catches among all states. 

The main gear types in the blue whiting fishery are pelagic trawl and bottom trawling. Both gear types are assessed and certified. The catches are reduced to fishmeal and oil but a fraction is frozen for human consumption. Most of the export of the fishmeal and oil is exported to Norway for fish feed production.

MSC certification seeks to recognise and reward good fishing practices and ensure that supply chain partners and consumers can track product back to sustainable fishing. By achieving MSC certification this fishery demonstrates sustainable credentials to the market. 

Kristinn Hjálmarsson Project manager at Iceland Sustainable Fishery, (ISF) the fishery client says:

"At ISF we are really pleased that Blue whiting fisheries by all Icelandic registered vessels using pelagic and bottom gear has been granted an MSC certification. Roughly 90% of all catch landed by Icelandic vessels is now from MSC certified fisheries and the challenges ahead are clear. Regardless of certifications, authorities for each fishery nation, must make sure that our nations are indisputably a reliable source for healthy seafood courses, anywhere and always." 

Gísli Gíslason, MSC Senior Program Manager in Iceland, Faroes and Greenland says:

“With completion of the blue whiting fishery, all pelagic fisheries in Iceland have gained MSC certification. These includes in addition to Blue whiting: Atlanto Scandian herring, mackerel, capelin and Iceland summer spawning herring, which is the only pelagic fishery in Iceland which is exclusively caught by Icelandic vessels. We congratulate ISF and the Icelandic fishing industry for this milestone.

We also hope that all coastal states involved in mackerel, AS-herring and blue whiting  fisheries will be able to reach a coastal states agreement and hence close conditions in those certificates. The special circumstances with those conditions which exist in all MSC certificates for those 3 species is that no single fishery can close those conditions on their own, as all states need to mutual agree on how they share total catches, so the catches will become in line with management advice."

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