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sea fisheries

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Sustainability Certification

Independent Sustainability Certification Schemes Including the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Scottish Government believes that independent sustainability certification schemes, such as that of the Marine Stewardship Council, can be a useful tool in helping consumers decide which sources to buy their food from. The MSC blue eco-label provides assurance that the product comes from a sustainable fishery. There are a number of certification schemes around the world but the Scottish Government is particularly involved with two: those of the Marine Stewardship Council and the Responsible Fishing Scheme.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent, global non-profit organisation which acts as an independent accreditation body and operates the MSC certification scheme which is a voluntary fisheries eco-label. If a fishery is successfully certified to the MSC Standard then products from that fishery are eligible to bear the blue MSC eco-label.

Marine Scotland is making great progress on certifying fisheries in Scotland, with five fully-certified fisheries (almost 4% of the global total) and a further 10 in the full assessment process.

During 2008-11, the Scottish Government funded two key posts to support Scottish fisheries seeking independent sustainability certification: MSC's Scottish Outreach Officer and Seafood Scotland's Environmental and Technical Manager. We continue to work closely with both MSC and Seafood Scotland. This support highlights the Scottish Government's firm commitment to Scottish fisheries and to ensuring they are well managed, sustainable and profitable.

Marine Scotland supports the vessel-based Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) both in its own right and as a stepping stone to accreditation. The RFS is an independent, audited assessment of good practice by a vessel skipper and crew in their fishing operations. It covers four key areas:

  • Fishing practises
  • Vessel criteria (such as hygiene, fish storage facilities, safety etc.)
  • Crew competence
  • Environmental considerations

You can read more about the Responsible Fishing Scheme on the Seafish website.

Certified Fisheries

The following Scottish fisheries are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council:

  • Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG) - North Sea herring

  • SPSG West of Scotland - Herring pelagic trawl

  • SPSG - Western component of North-East Atlantic mackerel

  • SPSG - Atlanto-Scandian herring

  • Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group (SFSAG) - North Sea haddock

  • SFSAG - Northern shelf saithe

  • Shetland and mainland Scotland - rope-grown mussel enhanced fishery

  • Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) - inshore Brown crab, Velvet crab and Scallop

The fisheries listed below are in full assessment for Marine Stewardship Council Certification:

  • Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance (MINSA) - North East Atlantic Mackerel

  • PFA, DPPO, KFO, SPSG & Compagnie des Peches St Malo – North East Atlantic blue whiting pelagic trawl

  • SPSG, DPPO, PFA, SPFPO & KFO – Atlanto-scandian purse seine and pelagic trawl herring

A number of other Scottish fisheries are interested in pursuing MSC certification, and some are already in the (confidential) pre-assessment process.

Responsible Fishing Scheme

Growing numbers of vessels in Scotland are signing up to the scheme and to date over 100 Scottish vessels are now fully certified.