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Sustainable and well managed

THE SCOTTISH part of the massive Atlanto-Scandian herring fishery has been certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard.

The Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG) received the certification on Friday during a short ceremony on board the Shetland pelagic trawler Adenia, in Aberdeen harbour.

SPSG already carry MSC certification for its mackerel and North Sea herring fishery, two of only 66 MSC certified fisheries worldwide.

Atlanto-Scandian herring is fished over a large area of the northeast Atlantic.  The UK has a quota of 20,600 tonnes for 2010, which is around 1.4 per cent of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the stock.

SPSG company secretary Derek Duthie said: “The Atlanto-Scandian herring fishery has become increasingly important to the Scottish pelagic industry in recent years as the large biomass has led to healthy quotas.

“It is one of our top three fisheries, and for many fishermen it is their second fishery in terms of quota allowance.”

He added that carrying the eco label was an important marketing tool as it allows SPSG members to compete on a level playing field with other countries’ products, particularly Norway and Denmark.

Key markets for Atlanto-Scandian herring are Russia, Ukraine and China.

Owner and skipper of the Whalsay based trawler Charisma, David Hutchison, said:.  “We have built up a good quota for the Atlanto-Scandian stock and normally land it into Denmark or Norway, whichever is closest to where we are fishing.

“This year, because of their commitment to MSC certification, the Danish processors would not buy our herring, so I am reassured that we will have access to this market once again.”

Andrew Mallison, standards and licensing director of the MSC said the SPSG had already demonstrated its commitment to sustainable fishing practices with the certification of its mackerel and North Sea herring fisheries.

“The addition of the Atlanto-Scandian herring fishery to their certified offering further underlines that commitment. I am sure that SPSG members will have great success meeting the high demand from buyers for MSC certified, sustainable herring,” he said.

The Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group was established in 2007 and represents all sectors of Scotland’s pelagic industry, from catching and processing to marketing.

Marine Stewardship Council is an international non-profit organisation set up to promote solutions to the problem of overfishing. In total, over 180 fisheries are engaged in the MSC programme with 66 certified and over 120 under full assessment.