First brown shrimp fishery gets MSC certified

Collaboration to achieve MSC certification for the North Sea brown shrimp fishery started in 2015 Collaboration to achieve MSC certification for the North Sea brown shrimp fishery started in 2015

A North Sea brown shrimp fishery operating in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands has achieved MSC sustainability certification.

Brown shrimp fishing is an old profession and many of the fishers are from families who have been involved in the industry for generations.

“My father and my grandfather were already fishing for shrimp and so is my son. That is what we call lived sustainability. It makes me very happy that the fishery achieved this certificate and thus now the official status of being sustainable,” said Dirk Sander, shrimp fisherman and member of the fishery’s steering committee.

Collaborative efforts

The collaboration to achieve MSC certification started in 2015, when a trilateral steering committee and an MSC project management group began developing a management plan for the fishery. Prior to this there were no government-regulated fishing quotas or restrictions on fishing effort for the shrimp fishery.

The University of Hamburg and a working group, under the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), helped to develop a harvest control rule to ensure the stable and healthy growth of the shrimp stock. During the certification process a coalition of eight conservation NGOs also contributed actively and constructively to the assessment outcome.

Measures, such as a fisheries control system and larger meshes to minimise by-catch, were included to reduce environmental impact.

The fishery will have to fulfil several conditions in the coming years to maintain its MSC certificate and progress towards this will be assessed on an annual basis.

One of these conditions is the collection of data on fisheries interactions with the ecosystem. For this purpose, intensive cooperation has been established across borders between fishermen from Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. In addition, a joint working group of a number of eNGOs and the fishery will facilitate this project.

The fishery comprises a fleet of around 400 boats that together catch approximately 30,000 tonnes of shrimp annually, or around 90% of the total North Sea catch.

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