Press release

Hastings fishermen celebrate being first in Britain to be certified sustainable for plaice

August 12, 2016

The Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society was celebrating today following the successful MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certification of its plaice, making them the first British fishermen catching certified sustainable plaice in Britain.

Hastings boats, which already catch certified sustainable herring and Dover sole, recently completed their assessment. Their plaice is now able to also carry the MSC label, assuring shoppers and diners that their fish has been responsibly caught by sustainable methods from sustainable stocks.

A long history

Operating from 27 boats on the picturesque Stade beach, from where fishing boats have operated for over a thousand years, it is one of the oldest beach-launched fishing fleets in the UK. Hastings MSC Dover sole and herring is already available in a wide range of restaurants across the UK as well as some local restaurants and fishmongers in Hastings and plaice makes this a hat trick.

Though the plaice fishery is small-scale, with 104 tonnes landed in 2014, compared to total international plaice landings of almost 4,000 tonnes in the Eastern Channel, together with the high-value sole fishery it generates relatively high local employment. Approximately 100 people are employed directly on the boats or as shore hands and another 250 in the local fish market and other associated service activities.

Paul Joy Chairman of Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society said, “We are delighted that we’re now able to supply MSC certified sustainable plaice alongside our sustainable Hastings herring and Dover sole. We think Hastings fish is the best there is so it’s great that as well as providing seafood lovers across Britain with quality, tasty fish, they can also be assured that it’s caught in a way that protects the oceans.”

"...small-scale traditional fleet"

Claire Pescod, Fisheries Outreach Manager for the MSC in the UK & Ireland, adds, “MSC certified fisheries come in all shapes and sizes and Hastings is a great example of how a small scale, traditional fleet can offer a product that meets the very modern consumer demand of sustainable seafood. They should be very proud to have added Hastings plaice to the list of sustainable fish caught and supplied in Hastings and the UK.”

Choosing seafood with the MSC ecolabel rewards the fisheries, retailers, brands and restaurants that are committed to sustainable sourcing, and incentivises others to improve their practices, helping to ensure that the life in our oceans is safeguarded for the future.

Local funding

Funding for the plaice assessment which used the MSC’s expedited assessment process, which reduces the cost of certification for fishermen catching more than one species when one is already certified, was provided by Hastings Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG). Councillor Dawn Poole, Vice Chair of FLAG commented, “It's great to see that Hastings Fishermen's Protection Society now has MSC certification for its plaice, in addition to its Dover sole and herring. Hastings is rightly proud of our fishing heritage and thanks to funding provided by Hastings Fisheries Local Action Group people can buy Hastings plaice confident that the fishing process is well managed”.

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