Re-certification for Dutch North Sea herring fishermen

06 Jun 2011

The Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA) North Sea herring fishery celebrates the start of the 2011 season with its successful re-certification against the MSC standard for sustainable fisheries.

Herring sourced from the fishery therefore remains eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel. The MSC certificate for the PFA was issued by Moody Marine Ltd. and is valid for five years subject to surveillance audits.

The PFA North Sea herring fishery was first certified in 2006 – a pioneering decision, which made it the first large European fishery to engage with the MSC programme. The PFA is still committed to improvement and has voluntarily implemented various policies to promote sustainable fishing in its fleet, for example, implementing new technologies such as sophisticated sonar to further reduce bycatch.

PFA’s members catch about 70,000mt of North Sea herring per year and its 25 freezer-trawlers operate under the Dutch, French, German, UK and Lithuanian flags. During the herring season usually between 8 and 10 of these ships catch North Sea Herring. The fleet uses pelagic trawl nets to fish the North Sea and Eastern English Channel herring stock. All the herring is frozen and boxed onboard and is mainly exported to Europe, North and West Africa.

Gerard van Balsfoort, PFA-president is pleased to see the sustainability of the North Sea herring fishery re-affirmed: “Over the past five years there has been an amazing development in the North Sea herring stock. North Sea herring experienced low recruitment rates, due to natural fluctuations, to which the management response was a radical reduction of the quota for a couple of years. We supported that approach and now we see a recovered stock in good shape and the fishing quotas are increasing again. The example of North Sea herring shows that it is possible to keep an MSC certificate as long as a fishery is willing to adapt its management to the variations in the stock.” 

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