Sustainability notes — Marine Stewardship Council
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Sustainability notes

This is an overview of how the Norway spring spawning herring fishery scored in assessment against the MSC standard. For the certifiers evaluation please download the full public certification report with detailed information on the performance of this fishery against the criteria of the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing.

The fishery scored as follows in assessment against the MSC standard for sustainable fishing. The highest possible score for each principle is 100 and a fishery must score at least 80 against each principle to get certified: 

MSC Principle

Fishery Performance

Principle 1: Sustainability of Exploited Stock

Overall:  90, Pass

Principle 2: Maintenance of Ecosystem

Overall:  86, Pass

Principle 3: Effective Management System

Overall:  85, Pass

Sustainability strengths

Some points on which the fishery scored over 90 are outlined below. 

Principle 1: the state of the fish stock

  • The species is readily identified by fishers and by regulators and is recorded appropriately.  The life history is particularly well understood as this species has been the subject of research and monitoring for many years.
  • The geographical range of the species is well defined as are the spawning, nursery and feeding grounds and the migration routes linking them.
  • The stocks are regularly monitored on an annual basis through a number of independent larval, juvenile and adult surveys, using a range of proven methodologies.
  • All fishing methods and gear types employed in the fishery are known. In-situ observations are made of fishing practices. Comprehensive knowledge is recorded and regularly updated, on the size and composition of the fleets.
  • Stocks are maintained above well defined limits system, below which there is an appreciable risk of impairing reproductive capacity of the stock, and effectively enforced by a robust quota system which follows ICES advice which is based on the results of the extensive surveys and fisheries modeling.

Principle 2: the impact of the fishery on the marine environment

  • The fishery benefits from the excellent knowledge of the ecosystem of the region with some datasets extending back to the 1930s. As a result, the nature, sensitivity and the distribution of all habitats relevant to the fishing operations are known in detail and are based on recent scientific information.
  • As the fishing is pelagic in nature, there is no direct impact of gear on the marine environment. The possibility of accidental gear loss is also considered negligible.
  • The fishery has very limited interaction with non-target species.  Discarding of any part of the catch is illegal for all Norwegian vessels.

Principle 3: the fishery management systems

  • The fishery has very limited interaction with non-target species.  Discarding of any part of the catch is illegal for all Norwegian vessels.
  • The management system in Norway is comprehensive and encompasses the entire herring fishery in Norwegian waters and those participating in it, including participation of fishers from other nations.
  • The data gathering and assessment methodology is subject to continuous internal scientific review within ICES, with participation by scientists from many countries.
  • The system observes all legal and customary rights of people dependent upon fishing under a formal codified system.
  • There is an active local research programme which aims to provide scientific information to meet the requirements of management of the fishery.


In order to ensure its continuing sustainable operation this fishery made a commitment to improving its performance where it scored between 60-80. Some of the actions the fishery has committed to are:

  • Agree within the first year of certification on any necessary reporting formats for the recording of information on the nature and incidence of the slipping of catches.
  • Provide evidence within two years of proactive support of research and observer monitoring of slippage.
  • Provide evidence within the first year of certification that a regular sampling programme of catches be implemented to provide statistically robust estimates of the by-catch of all species.


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