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Cornish fishermen go for MSC ecolabel to boost hake sales

Cornish fishermen are today showing their commitment to sustainable fishing as they announce the start of their assessment for the coveted Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel for the Cornish gill-net hake fishery.

Hake has been targeted by Cornish fishermen for many years now and, following the implementation of a careful management plan, put in place in 2001, hake stocks have recovered to nearly double their low point.

Industry rising to the challenge

“We are proud of how the industry has responded to the challenge of working with scientists to better understand the state of fish stocks and where action has been needed to improve stocks it has been taken. What better way to demonstrate that than going through MSC assessment“, said Paul Trebilcock, CEO of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO), which is leading the move for certification.

In 2009, Cornish fishermen caught over 300 tonnes of hake worth over half a million pounds (around 570,000€).  Traditionally over 80% of this would have been exported to Spain but in more recent years Spain too has suffered with the global recession and has turned to cheaper imports resulting in a very challenging market for the high-quality, tasty fish.

Nathan de Rozarieux, from Seafood Cornwall also welcomed the move, “We hope that by meeting what is widely accepted to be the gold standard in fisheries eco-labelling that the Cornish industry will be able to develop higher value and higher volume markets for Cornish hake in the UK” he said.

Support from the Co-op

The Co-operative has set up a £200,000 fund to help support fisheries complete the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification process.  The Cornish gill-net kake fishery is the fourth fishery in the South West to be supported through the MSC assessment process by the Co-Operative Group.

Kirstie Pollard  (Co-operative Group -Environment Adviser) commented  ”The Southwest benefits from a rich diversity of fish species and we are pleased to support this project as part of our approach towards sustainable sourcing.”

MSC welcomes fishery

Toby Middleton, UK Country Manager for the MSC added: “The CFPO are showing great leadership in their sector and I’m really pleased to welcome the CFPO hake fishery into full assessment. Cornish hake is a fantastic fish and, with Cornish hake sold in the UK, France and Spain, I’m sure that MSC certified retailers and restaurants in the UK and France will follow the assessment with great interest.”

The certification is also being supported financially by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), DEFRA and Natural England.

Stephen Warman – Marine Issues Adviser – Natural England said “The management of our seas is one of the greatest challenges we face. Natural England welcome this initiative to move the industry further towards a sustainable footing and looks forward to working with fishermen from all sectors to promote healthy and productive seas”.

Get Involved

The assessment will be carried out by independent certifier, Moody Marine. Anyone with a stake in the fishery can take part and Moody Marine has already identified 17 stakeholder organisations. If you would like to take part, please contact Jim Andrews  on: [email protected]

About the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation

The CFPO was established in 1976 as a non-profit making co-operative, and today consists of 210 fishing vessel-owning members from all over Cornwall.  It represents the views of Cornish fishermen locally, nationally and internationally.

About Seafood Cornwall

Seafood Cornwall, is a project funded by the European Fisheries Fund, SWRDA and Seafish offers advice to industry on fish quality issues and is working to improve marketing and promotion of fish and seafood. Seafood Cornwall is based at The Strand, Newlyn, contact Nathan de Rozarieux, 01736 874304. For more information about the project visit

More information 

Key facts about MSC