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First Oyster Fishery Obtains MSC Certification

16 May 2012

DENMARK - Denmark’s Limfjord oyster dredge fishery has become the first oyster fishery in the world to be granted MSC certification. This new addition adds yet another species to the programme.

The fishery client, Vilsund Blue, has already proven its extraordinary commitment to sustainable fishing activities through its three blue mussel fisheries having undergone assessment. All have managed to meet the MSC environmental standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The total allowable catch (TAC) of the European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis) in the Danish Limfjord area is covered by the certified fishery. Seventy-six fishermen with license to fish oyster caught approximately 600 tonnes with vessels 12 metres long or smaller during last year’s fishing season. Oysters are fished from October to May. The fishery’s activities occur in the western parts of the Limfjord with dredges that are restricted in size and weight. Not more than two dredges can be used at a time, and fishermen are prohibited from carrying mussel dredges aboard when they are fishing for oysters.

Representatives from environmental organisations, scientific research bodies, management authorities, fishermen and public information centres have contributed with information and questions during the assessment process. A thorough literary review provided further data, which led to a robust ground for the decision to recommend the fishery for certification. A fully transparent process is inherent to every fishery having gone through the MSC programme.

The fishery is managed by the Danish Directorate of Fisheries Authorities. In Limfjorden, the stocks of flat oyster have been mapped and Danish scientific agencies e.g. DTUAqua perform annual stock assessments within the Limfjord. This information is used by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries to set a TAC for the oyster fishery. Enforcement of licences and quotas is undertaken by the Danish Directorate of Fisheries and local councils.

Sören Mattesen, from the Vilsund Blue a/s says of the MSC certification: "We at Vilsund Blue are proud to announce that all the fisheries delivering our products now are MSC certified. Sustainability is a top priority at Vilsund Blue and getting our fourth certification is the fulfillment of our strategic goal. We will continue our work with sustainability in the future in order to secure the supply of the world’s best products to the world’s mussel and oyster lovers."

Minna Epps, Manager Baltic Sea Region of the MSC says: "We welcome and congratulate Vilsund Blue’s oyster fishery as the first oyster fishery to become MSC certified and which will without a doubt be rewarded on the market for being the first oyster fishery that has met the MSC standard."

The oysters are being sold fresh mainly to markets in Europe, where Spanish demand is the highest.

TheFishSite News Desk

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