Press release

Scientists arrive in Greenland for halibut MSC assessment

August 11, 2016

This week an international group of scientists will arrive in Greenland to examine the sustainability of Greenland’s halibut fishery. The assessment is part of the MSC certification process for the fishery and the Greenland hopes to be MSC certified in early 2017.

The fishery has sparked international interest with key markets in Japan (25,000 tons per year) and China (30,000 tons per year, much of which is processed and exported). Most of these are whole fish, frozen at sea.

In Europe, around 450 tons of halibut are imported to The Netherlands, much of which is then exported across the EU. French retailer Picard travelled to Greenland to ask the fishery to get MSC certified. French consumers eat around 1,500 tons of Greenland halibut per year.

About halibut

Halibut is the largest of the flatfish species and Greenland halibut can grow up to 1.2 metres long. It has a meaty white flesh and it is often served as steaks or fillets. Also known as Greenland turbot (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) it belongs to the family of right eye flounders that can swim both flat and upright. Halibut live all round the north pole in deep waters from 200 to 1600m but they have been caught at depths more than 2,200 m.

Leadership by the industry

Gisli Gislason, MSC Manager for Iceland and Greenland commented: “This first assessment of Greenland halibut into the MSC program demonstrates leadership by the Greenland seafood industry. I’m sure this will be welcomed both in the European and Asian markets where demand for MSC certified seafood is gradually growing. We hope other halibut fisheries will follow their lead.”

Kristina Guldbæk, from Sustainable Fisheries Greenland added: “The seafood industry in Greenland is committed to sustainability. It is vital for future livelihood in the local economy and SFG wants to demonstrate that seafood from Greenland are indeed from sustainable fishery. We are proud of being the first one of entering Greenland halibut fishery into full assessment against the MSC standard.”

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