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First Finnish fishery enters MSC assessment

The Finnish Fishermen's Association has entered the Baltic herring and sprat fishery into full assessment to the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Fisheries Standard. The fishery represents more than 90%* Finland’s marine catch and is the first in Finland to enter MSC assessment.

The assessment will be conducted by independent certifier, Acoura Marine who will determine whether the fishery meets the MSC’s internationally recognised standards of best practise in sustainable fishing. The process is expected to take between 12 and 18 months. Anyone with information about the sustainability of the fishery and its operations is invited to participate.  

Increasing demand for MSC certified ingredients

Market demand for MSC certified raw materials for use in fish meal and oils is increasing, along with consumer awareness of sustainable fishing.

This fishery targets herring and sprat in ICES subdivisions 25-32 (excluding the Gulf of Riga, subdivision 28.1) using trawls and traps. In 2015 the fishery caught around 132,000 tonnes of herring and around 12,000 tonnes of sprat. Both species are important to the fish meal and oil industry, as well as for local consumption and in dietary supplements.

Janne Posti, MSC’s Project Manager said: “Some 20% of annual global wild seafood production is for fish meal and oil production. The majority of these ingredients end up in animal feeds, with an increasing proportion of the fish oil used for supplements and nutraceuticals. It is critical that low trophic level species, such as herring and sprat, are managed sustainably. We welcome the Finnish Fishermen’s Association’s decision to put Baltic herring and sprat forward for MSC assessment.”

Finnish government support

The Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, responsible for fisheries, has developed a Roadmap to Bioeconomy 2020. The roadmap recognizes the potential of responsible seafood production as an engine of sustainable growth. They also recognise the importance of independent certification. The project is in accordance with the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Finnish action plan.

"Baltic herring and sprat are extremely important species for the Finnish fisheries sector and we are very happy that the first Finnish fishery is entering MSC assessment. We recognise the importance of sustainable fishing and ensuring that this resource is available for future generations. We have also noticed that the fish oil and fishmeal industry in particular is increasingly demanding certified and sustainably sourced raw materials”, says Kim Jordas, the CEO of Finnish Fishermen’s Association.

Stakeholder consultation

Full MSC assessment considers the health of the stock; the impact of fishing on the marine environment; and the management of the fishery. All available information on the sustainability of the fishery is considered, and stakeholders are consulted via site visits and comments on the certifier’s recommendations. To register an interest in the assessment of this fishery, please contact: [email protected].

* In 2015 the fishery caught around 132,000 tonnes of herring and around 12,000 tonnes of sprat. The total marine catch of all species in Finland was 153,000 tonnes.