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Sustainability of the Dutch pulse trawl fishery to be independently assessed

The Dutch pulse trawl sole and plaice fishery has applied to be assessed against the MSC Fisheries Standard. A team of independent scientists and auditors employed by third-party certifier, Acoura Marine*, will scrutinize the fishery’s practices in order to determine whether it meets the MSC’s requirements for environmentally sustainable fishing.

Assessment to the MSC Fisheries Standard is widely acknowledged as the most transparent and credible process for determining the sustainability of wild-capture fisheries. The rigorous, scientific process will take up to 18 months and is an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the sustainability of the fishery.

The assessment team will consider all evidence available on the potential impacts of the fishery on populations of both target and non-target marine species. It will also consider how it impacts the wider ecosystem and habitats within the fishing area. Management and control measures will be audited to ensure that they are effective in protecting ocean environments for the future.

Hans Nieuwenhuis, Country Manager for the MSC in the Netherlands said: “This assessment will review new scientific knowledge with regards to the impacts of pulse trawl fishing. An MSC assessment is a consultative and open process. I encourage anyone with relevant information about this fishery to participate.”

Assessment to the MSC standard is voluntary and focuses on determining the overall sustainability of a fishery irrespective of the fishing technique used. Only well managed fisheries which have been independently assessed as ensuring the long-term sustainability of fish stocks and keeping ecosystems healthy are certified to the MSC Standard.

Commenting on the fishery’s decision to enter MSC assessment, Dr. Christien Absil, fisheries programme manager at North Sea Foundation said: “Although more time may be needed to fully understand the impacts of pulse trawl fishing, the MSC assessment enables the fishermen to demonstrate their ambition to fish in as environmentally friendly a way as possible. It will also give data collection in the flatfish fishery, in particular concerning the bycatch of sensitive and endangered species, a substantial push. Furthermore, we believe it is essential that the entire fleet takes responsibility for, amongst others things, incorporating state of the art catch documentation systems. In this way the MSC assessment can stimulate a desirable process by which the burden of proof is reversed: The sustainability claim can only be made by those who prove it.”

Dr Absil is also Chair of Good Fish Foundation and vice-chair of the North Sea Advisory Council.

Get involved

There are six opportunities for stakeholders to participate in the assessment process. Any stakeholder wishing to contribute should register with the certifier Acoura Marine at [email protected].

> Find out more about how to participate in an MSC assessment

> Find out more about this fishery

*Acoura Marine was formerly known as Food Certification International (FCI)