Press release

MSC certificate for Dutch plaice and sole fishermen: retailers and restaurants welcome new certified supply

February 23, 2014

It’s Christmas time for the Dutch fishing industry: the North Sea plaice and sole fishermen united in the Cooperative Fisheries Organization (CVO, Coöperatieve Visserijorganisatie) have achieved certification to the Marine Stewardship Council standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. The assessment of the plaice fishery and its Dover sole bycatch was conducted by independent certifier Intertek Moody Marine.

The MSC assessment was part of agreements made in 2008 between the fishing industry, the World Wildlife Fund, the North Sea Foundation and the former Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality on the sustainable development of the North Sea fisheries. CVO’s assessment was part-funded by a certification grant from the Dutch Ministry of Economics, Agriculture and Innovation.

About the Dutch plaice and sole fishery

The North Sea plaice fishery is a very important fishery for the Netherlands. Dover sole, which is typically a bycatch species in this fishery, was assessed as a target species because it is an important commercial species.

The MSC certificate applies to the fisheries with twinrig and outrig and part of the flyshoot fishery. More than half of the flatfish fishermen using these techniques will be fishing under the MSC certificate, and CVO hopes to be able to further increase this share in the near future. Because of the plaice spawning period, CVO has voluntarily decided not to land any MSC certified plaice between the 15th of December and the 1st of March.

As part of the certification, the CVO fishermen will conduct research on the catch composition of the various techniques. This includes the interactions of the fisheries with vulnerable or protected species. Therefore, the Dutch fishing industry will set up a sampling program in which the fishermen themselves will collect the necessary data under scientific supervision. CVO will also make an effort towards a more flexible days-at-sea regulation, which can ultimately lead to a reduction in discards.

Towards a sustainable North Sea fishery

“Part of a healthy North Sea is responsible resource management with innovative fishing methods. Achieving MSC certification for the fishing methods twinrig, outrig and flyshoot for plaice and sole represents an important step for the cutter fishery towards a full certification of the North Sea fishery,” CVO Chairman Jaap Hennekeij points out. “Now we can meet the increasing market and consumer demand for sustainable certified North Sea fish."

Rising demand for sustainable North Sea plaice and sole in the European market

"Supermarkets in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland have been waiting for more sustainable certified plaice for a long time. In the Netherlands we also see a growing demand for Dover sole from the restaurants. The certification of the CVO will thus clearly be visible in the market,” explains Nathalie Steins, MSC Manager Benelux. “I am delighted to congratulate CVO on obtaining the MSC certificate.” 

About CVO

The Cooperative Fisheries Organization (CVO) is a collaboration of producer organizations operating in the North Sea, Wadden Sea and coastal waters, Skagerrak and the English Channel. CWD strives for sustainable fishing by engaging in certification and marketing of sustainable fisheries products. More information:

More information

MSC: or +31 (0)70 360 59 79

CVO: Derk Jan Berends,  of +31 (0)527-698151

Key facts about MSC

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