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Large Norwegian fishery again proven sustainable

Norway’s North East Arctic cod and haddock fishery, the largest of its kind in the world, has been re-certified to the MSC standard for sustainability. An independent team of fishery scientists and management experts has assessed the fishery and found it continues to meet the MSC’s Fisheries Standard. Cod and haddock sourced from the fishery remains eligible to bear the blue MSC ecolabel.

The fish products are sold globally, with Europe as a core market, and supply a wide range of restaurants and retailers with frozen and fresh fillets.

“With high European demand for sustainably caught cod and haddock, this recertification is good news for seafood suppliers. In order to remain certified to the MSC’s robust standard, this fishery has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to research, monitoring and management, consistent with the UN FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible fisheries. This is a significant achievement which deserves a high level of recognition” says Camiel Derichs, Regional Director for MSC Europe.

An iconic fishery

The fishery was first MSC certified in 2010, and is an iconic part of Norwegian heritage and essential to the economy of the coastal communities. The MSC certification has confirmed its wide acclaim as a leading example in cod fishery management.

This second assessment shows that the cod and haddock stocks in the North East Arctic remain healthy and well managed. Both species have been subject to intense research during the last 60 years, providing a significant body of data on the life history, spawning, distribution and growth of the species.

“When the fishery’s five year certificate approached its expiry date, there was no doubt about going for recertification. Consumers in many countries are conscious about ecolabelling, and MSC certification has been an important tool for us to demonstrate the sustainability of our fisheries. Because of this, it was important for our fishermen to be certified for five more years”, says Kjell Ingebrigtsen, Chairman of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association.

Measures for future sustainability

In order to improve its sustainability even further, the fishery will need to comply with a small number of conditions during the coming years. These include implementing measures to better understand and gather data on bycatch species and take actions to decrease this impact.

WWF-Norway is pleased to see that the Norwegian cod and haddock fishery in the North East Arctic Ocean is recertified to the MSC Standard. The certification comes with some conditions to demonstrate further that fishing gear does not harm vulnerable marine ecosystems significantly and that it does not have significant amount of bycatch of non-targeted species. WWF-Norway will therefore follow the fishery closely in the certification period over the next five years”, says Karoline Andaur, Conservation Director Policy, WWF Norway.

Celebrating 20 years since the launch of the UN FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

This announcement comes as delegates meet in Vigo, Spain to celebrate 20 years since the UN FAO first published its Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The MSC Fisheries Standard was one of the first models for sustainable fishing to base its requirements on the FAO Code, giving fisheries the opportunity to demonstrate their sustainability against internationally recognised best practice.

The MSC's David Agnew on the FAO Code of Conduct >