Second German Baltic fishery MSC certified

Fishing cooperative Küstenfischer Nord eG Heiligenhafen has received the MSC certificate for its eastern Baltic cod.

The cooperative’s 17 vessels catch cod in the eastern Baltic where, just a few years ago, the cod stock was close to collapse. Now, scientific stock calculations show a six-fold increase in numbers since 2005. The positive development of the cod stock in the eastern Baltic is due in part to a significant reduction in fishing pressure, and partly to better recruitment.

In 2011 the vessels landed a total of 1554t of cod from the eastern Baltic, which accounts for 40% of Germany’s entire Baltic cod quota. A large proportion of the catch is loaded onto trucks at the local port in Heiligenhafen and sold at auction in France. The rest is sold in the region or served up in the cooperative’s own restaurant.

The fishermen use midwater trawl nets and bottom trawl nets. Midwater trawl nets are pulled through the water by a boat and do not usually touch the sea bed. Since eastern Baltic cod are frequently found in deeper waters, but far above the sea bed, the fishermen primarily use midwater nets. When using bottom trawl nets, the fishermen employ light gears. They use exit windows in the net to minimise bycatch and use a mesh size of 125mm, 20mm larger than the legal requirement.

The fishery has also been set some conditions that require further improvement measures to be implemented, even now that the certification process is over, including mapping the sea bed structures of the fishing grounds in detail. This will help them observe the impact of their fishing methods on the sea bed so they can reduce it if necessary.

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