The Joint Demersal Fisheries, a collaboration of large and small-scale fisheries in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat, achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in October.

This means that a large marine area in the North Sea and adjacent waters, almost the combined size of the four participating countries --Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands -- is now managed sustainably.

The combined assessment measured a wide range of stocks, species and gear types against the MSC fisheries standard. Formerly certified under 10 individual MSC certificates, this single MSC certificate includes 15 separate stocks of 12 species, 10 gear types and 3 catch areas in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat, covering 961 vessels at time of certification.

The assessment process, carried out by independent assessor Control Union Pesca, lasted over two years.

“After a rigorous assessment process, with contributions from NGOs, peer reviewers and scientists, the Joint Demersal Fisheries is MSC certified," said Hans Nieuwenhuis, MSC director for Northern Europe.

“This is an achievement for the fishers that have worked hard to improve their fishing practices in a collaborative approach to ensure consistency and coordination in stock and ecosystem management.”

“We are very proud of the successful completion of our new MSC certificate. We catch high quality fish, our fisheries are sustainable and most of our catch is MSC certified, this is the icing on the cake and a fantastic victory," said Kurt S. Madsen, deputy chairman of the Danish Fishermen Producers Organisation (DFPO).

The Joint Demersal Fisheries

The fishery is made up of four fishery client groups: Danish Fishermen Producers Organisation (DFPO), Coöperatieve Visserij Organisatie (CVO), Swedish Fisherman's Producer Organisation (SFPO) and Erzeugergemeinschaft Nordsee (EZG).

The species included in the certificate are: cod, haddock, hake, ling, megrim, Norway lobster (Nephrops), northern prawn (Pandalus), plaice, saithe, Dover sole, tusk and whiting. Megrim has been certified for the first-time. The assessment included species that are commonly caught together in a mixed fishery, which means a wider range of species from now on can be sold with the MSC blue label.

North Sea cod and whiting are included in the Joint Demersal Fisheries certificate but are suspended beginning Oct. 31, because new scientific advice on North Sea cod and whiting stocks published at a late stage during the assessment process indicate that these stocks do not currently meet the MSC Fisheries Standard requirements. The suspension applies to all MSC certified fisheries targeting North Sea cod stocks.