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Breton Purse Seiners Net MSC Certification

06 August 2010

FRANCE - South Brittany sardine purse seine fishery has just been awarded the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certificate, making it the second French fishery to achieve MSC certification for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The MSC environmental certification and eco-labelling scheme is the first in the world to be fully consistent with the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) ‘Guidelines for the Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries’.

The 21 member boats of the Association des Bolincheurs de Bretagne (Association of Purse Seine Fishers in Brittany) and holders of a purse seiner license will from now be able to affix the blue MSC ecolabel to their catches. This announcement comes at a time when the sardine fishing season is in full swing along the Breton coast.

The sardine fishing season runs from May to October, with around 90 per cent of catches taken during this period. In 2009, the association’s annual catches were estimated to be around 20,000 metric tonnes.

The purse seiners’ catches are primarily landed at the fish markets of Saint-Guénolé (50 per cent), Douarnenez (30 per cent) and, to a lesser extent, Concarneau (15 per cent), with the remaining five per cent landed at the fish markets of Loctudy, Le Guilvinec and Audierne.

Sardines caught by purse seiners are primarily of grade 10 or 20 (between 14 and 23 centimetres); the smallest destined primarily for the canning industry and the largest for the fresh market.

Sardine purse seining is managed exclusively in territorial waters up to 12 miles from the coast. As a result, it is considered a type of coastal fishing and governed by the Comité Régional des Pêches Maritimes et des Elevages Marins de Bretagne in the framework of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

"We are delighted to be joining the family of MSC certified fisheries. It was important for us to prove the sustainability of our fishing practices by means of an independent evaluation and this international recognition is a reward for our association, which independently manages our fishery. Sardine fishing is not actually governed by a quota system and we have implemented our own license system to improve our resource management. The MSC certification is part of our plan to continue to pursue this voluntary responsible approach alongside our management systems", says Didier Le Gloanec, president of the Association des Bolincheurs de Bretagne.

"We are lucky enough to be practising a great profession which uses ‘clean’ fishing techniques, and we want to share and pass on such practices to future generations. In the framework of our MSC certification, we have also signed an agreement with officials from the Iroise Marine Park for the purposes of gathering data on bycatch species and sensitive habitats. Sea observation initiatives and the work we do in conjunction with scientists also testify to our willingness to go the extra mile to preserve the resource we have."

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