North Sea haddock certified

Peterhead market received the first landings of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified North Sea haddock this morning (29th October), as fishermen and members of the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group (SFSAG) celebrated the sustainable status of this stock.

North Sea haddock is the first Scottish whitefish to be certified with the gold standard of sustainability, and is of significant value to the fleet (26 thousand tonnes worth £25 million in 2009). It is also the first fishery of its kind to be certified in the North Sea.

Mike Park, Chair of SFSAG said: “The Scottish industry has been involved in a number of initiatives to demonstrate its sustainability and today is a significant milestone, illustrating the progress that has been made in a relatively short period of time. Achieving MSC accreditation for North Sea haddock will enable the industry to prove its credentials to the supply chain, through a recognised and independently verified standard, and ensure that the top quality haddock landed by Scottish vessels is available to as many consumers as possible. “

First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond MSP joined SFSAG members at a luncheon to witness the presentation of the MSC certificate by Steven Tait, Senior Marine Stewardship Council International Manager.

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Congratulations to SFSAG for this landmark achievement. Scotland is leading the rest of Europe on fisheries conservation and achieving the MSC gold standard for Scottish haddock is further recognition of this. The award is excellent news for our fishing fleets and is testament to the hard work of the industry in recent years.

“North Sea haddock is Scotland’s most valuable whitefish stock and achieving sustainable stock status will ensure further opportunities for our fishermen in the future. This could open the door for lucrative deals with leading retailers which value MSC status.“The Scottish Government and industry have been working together to ensure that we are at the forefront of developing innovative ways to manage our fisheries. We have introduced the Conservation Credits Scheme in North Sea whitefish fisheries, which has been instrumental in the certification of haddock. And WWF ranked Scotland number 1 in Europe, together with Denmark, for conservation measures by North Sea whitefish fleets in 2009.”

Haddock currently ranks number four in volume and value in the UK marketplace and total retail sales increased year on year to 30th September 2010 by 5.4% in value and 14.7% in volume.

“There has been considerable interest from both retailers and the food service sector in MSC North Sea haddock. Certification will help to secure existing markets, create new opportunities, and reassure the consumer that North Sea Haddock is a good purchase choice,” stated Davie Anderson, Chairman of the Scottish Association of Fish Producer Organisations and a member of SFSAG.

The Food and Drink Federation welcomes the MSC certification of North Sea haddock and congratulates all those involved in achieving this successful outcome. “Our fish processing member companies place great emphasis on the responsible sourcing of seafood and this is one of many initiatives which contribute to this. We are also working closely with our supply chain partners and WWF to improve the sustainability of the valuable renewable resource which fish stocks represent,” said Andrew Kuyk CBE, Director of Sustainability and Competitiveness