North Sea herring fisheries retain eco label standard

The North Sea herring fishery undertaken by Shetland vessels has been recertified by the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) eco label scheme, that is intended to indicate to consumers they are buying fish from sustainable sources.

The fishery is operated by vessels belonging to the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG) and the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) which incorporates vessels from England, France, Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands.

The fishery held the prestigious MSC standard since 2006 and 2008 respectively, and this is the third time it has been recertified under its programme of five-yearly assessments. The MSC standard is intended to provide independent confirmation that the fishery is sustainable and well-managed.

The news comes at a time when North Sea fishermen are urging the general public to eat more herring because it is packed full of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and essential vitamins and minerals.

SPSG secretary Ian Gatt said: “This recertification is great news for the fishery and highlights the determination of our herring fishermen to ensure a sustainable future.

“Health experts recommend we should eat two portions of fish every week, one of which should be an oil-rich fish, which is why we should all be including fish such as herring or mackerel in our weekly shop.”

The PFA’s Gerard van Balsfoort said that the North Sea herring fishery was the first large European fishery of its type to be certified under the MSC label.

“This third certification of the iconic North Sea herring fishery shows how collaboration among scientists – including our own researchers – management authorities and the fishing industry can lead to successful and long term sustainable harvesting.”

Acoura Marine undertook the assessment on behalf of the PFA and SPSG client group.

SPSG represents all sectors of Scotland’s pelagic industry, from catching and processing, to marketing. It was established in 2006 to oversee the certification of a number of pelagic stocks to the MSC standard and has been behind a number of other sustainability initiatives.

The PFA represents nine European pelagic freezer-trawler companies that fish for human consumption. PFA members are family-run companies that currently operate 18 pelagic freezer-trawlers flagged in France, Germany, England, Lithuania and the Netherlands.


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