Press release

Dutch hand-raked cockle fishery earns MSC certification

November 1, 2012

The Dutch hand-raked cockle fishery has secured certification to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable and well managed fisheries. Products from this fishery will now be eligible to carry the internationally- recognized blue MSC ecolabel that assures buyers and shoppers that seafood is fully traceable to a certified sustainable fishery.

The assessment was part-funded by a certification grant to the Dutch Organisation of Cockle Fishermen (OHV) from the Dutch Ministry of Economics, Agriculture and Innovation.

About the fishery

The hand-raked cockle fishery is located in the Dutch North Sea coastal region of the Wadden Sea and Oosterschelde. Access to the fishery is controlled by licence and there are 31 licences currently in operation.  . The cockles (Cerastoderma edule) are harvested  on the mud flats in the tidal regions using a rake to which a netted bag is attached.  The combined annual catch by OHV licence holders is between 300 and 600 tonnes (shelled cockle meat). OHV member fishermen are allowed to harvest a maximum of 2.5 per cent of the harvestable stock annually in the Waddensea. In the Oosterschelde they have to observe the ecological food reservation requirements of 5000 tonnes, below which fishing is not permitted. The cockles are mainly sold on the Spanish market with a subsidiary market in France.

Cockle fishery incorporates conservation measures in management plan

“The hand-raked cockle fishery is, as the name implies, an artisanal way of fishing. Even so, the fishery is strictly regulated by thresholds that have been agreed with nature protection organizations and are incorporated in our fishery management plan”, says Bert Keus, chairman of the Dutch Organisation of Cockle Fishermen.   “We are happy that MSC assessment has confirmed that the hand-raked cockle fishery in the Waddenzee and Oosterschelde  is sustainable.”

MSC applauds stakeholder participation in Wadden Sea cockle fishery

Nathalie Steins, MSC Manager Benelux: “Congratulations to the Dutch cockle fishery. The certification verifies that the joint efforts of the fishermen, nature conservation groups and the government aimed at balancing fisheries and nature protection in the Wadden Sea and Eastern Scheldt, have really resulted in a sustainable and well-managed fishery."

The assessment has been carried out by independent certifier Food Certification International.

More information

MSC : or +31 (0)70 3605979

Dutch Organisation of Cockle Fishermen (OHV): Bert Keus or + 31 (0) 6 2884 2191

A picture of the fishery is available on request (MSC).

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