Pikeperch, also known as zander, caught in the Swedish lakes of Mälaren and Vänern can now be sold with the blue MSC label. Independent assessors found that the Mälaren and Vänern pikeperch fishery meets the MSC's standard for well-managed and sustainable fishing. It joins the Swedish pikeperch fishery in Lake Hjälmaren, which became the first ever inland MSC certified fishery in August 2006.
“The MSC assessment process demonstrated that these big inland fisheries are sustainably managed. It’s great to see fishers working together to safeguard their fishery and achieve MSC certification. They now have the opportunity to serve local and export markets in Europe with MSC certified sustainable and traceable pikeperch,” says Minna Epps, Program Director of MSC in Scandinavia.
Fishing that meets strict requirements
The pikeperch fisheries in the Swedish lakes Vänern, Mälaren and Hjälmaren are carefully managed. Licensing and regulations control the number of fishers and the type of fishing gear, ensuring that fish stocks and habitats are protected. The mesh used in fish traps and gillnets reduces the catch of fish below 45cm long. Fish below this size are released alive from fish traps, with tagging showing a good survival rate.
“Prior to certification, we introduced improvements such as increasing the minimum size of the pikeperch and using nets with a larger mesh size. With these changes, catches of smaller fish has fallen dramatically,” says Conny Gustavsson, Chairman of Lake Vänern’s Fishermen's Federation.
Catches vary from year to year. In Sweden's largest lake, Vänern there are about 70 fishers, catching between 60 and 120 tonnes of pikeperch per year. In Mälaren, 33 pikeperch fishers catch between 100 and 200 tonnes per year.
“We are very proud to meet the MSC’s requirements. It confirms that our fishing practices are sustainable. I’m particularly proud of the cooperation between fishers to achieve this certification,” says Mats Ingemarsson, Chairman for the Swedish Inland Fishermen’s Federation.
A premium product
Pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) is a member of the perch family, found mostly in lakes. The meat is white and tender, making it popular in fish dishes across Scandinavia and Europe. In Sweden, pikeperch is the most economically important species for the commercial freshwater fisheries.
Some of the pikeperch is delivered directly to the MSC certified fish auction in Stockholm, which opened in November 2016. A large part is exported to Germany and the Netherlands where there is high demand for the species.
“The increased supply of MSC certified pikeperch is positive news for the Stockholm Fish Auction. MSC labelled pikeperch from Swedish lakes is a premium product with a good reputation, both in Sweden and abroad. Larger volumes and stable supplies provide us with new opportunities to work with important market players,” says Henrik Johansson, CEO of Stockholm Fish Auction.