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The “red gold” of Kalix – now sold with the blue MSC ecolabel

Champagne, Parma ham and Caviar of Kalix all have the status of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). The fishermen of the Caviar of Kalix can now add the MSC ecolabel to their products as a proof that they are fishing "red gold" sustainably. In June, the Swedish vendace fishery in the Gulf of Bothnia became MSC certified.

“We want to demonstrate that we are fishing sustainably, which is important with the growing interest for environmental issues. With MSC certification, we can now continue trying to get the actual fish, vendace, into the Swedish food culture. Multiple gourmet restaurants have shown interest,” says Folke Spegel, project leader for the Coastal Fishermen`s Association in Norrbotten.

Hard work for luxurious roe

This is the first vendace fishery in the world to be MSC certified. The research community has looked into the development of the vendace stock for more than ten years and has collected data to demonstrate the sustainability of the fishery.

The Coastal Fishermen`s Association in Norrbotten, which holds the certification, has for many years managed the fishery in cooperation with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management. “This certification will ensure that we take continuous responsibility for securing this important resource for the future”, says Kjell Strömbäck, president of the Coastal Fishermen's Association.

Hard work has paid off – this northern luxurious caviar, which are served both on the Nobel banquet and in regular people homes, will finally have the MSC ecolabel on its jar.

“It is particularly gratifying when a fishery that provides such an iconic product succeeds in proving its sustainability. The fishery is well documented by researchers and the stocks are in a good condition. The fishery is operating in respect to the marine environment,” says Christoph Mathiesen, Program Director for the MSC in Scandinavia and the Baltic region.

Environmentally unique roe

What makes vendace roe from Kalix unique is the origin. From Haparanda to just south of Piteå, the fresh water from the high flowing rivers creates a very special marine environment for the vendace. The Gulf of Bothnia is the world's largest sea with brackish water and the salinity is below 0.1%. The vendace roe is produced at several locations in the world but only here does the vendace provide the exclusive and deep yellowish red caviar, the Caviar of Kalix.

Video (Swedish)


via YouTube


MSC ecolabelled caviar of Kalix tasted first at food festival

The very first jar of vendace roe with MSC's ecolabel was opened at the food festival Taste of Stockholm. The product was then tested by a class of 10 year olds, who also learned about the MSC and sustainable fishing.

“We believe children need to know how they can have an impact on the oceans through their seafood choices. With the help of an ecolabel, MSC want to make it easy for everyone to choose fish caught with concern for the marine environment
,” says Christoph Mathiesen.

Kalix fish facts

Five weeks of fishing in the fall

Fishing only takes place for five weeks a year, starting in late September. This is when the females are full of roe. About 1,500 tonnes of vendace is caught each year. For years, the fishermen has developed their fishing gear to minimize bycatch and prevent young vendace from being caught.

Vendace - small salmonid with popular roe

Vendace (Coregonus Albula) is a small salmonid fish that lives in cold nutrient-poor lakes in northern Europe, and also at the coast of the Baltic. The fish rarely becomes larger than 30 centimeters long, and weighs less than 800 grams. In the Gulf of Bothnia’s brackish water the fish is even smaller and never becomes longer than 17 centimeters.

Finnish "Muikkukukko"

It is the roe interests the market most, but also vendace fillets are for sale. In Finland, a vendace cake called "Muikkukukko", a dish consisting of bread with a filling of vendace, is produced.

> Read more about this fishery