World’s First anglerfish (monkfish) fishery MSC certified

The Iceland Sustainable Fisheries (ISF) anglerfish fishery has gained MSC certification. The assessment was performed by the conformity assessment body (CAB) – Tún. This is the world’s first anglerfish fishery to achieve MSC certification. This is also the eighth occasion where ISF have been the first to have a new species certified in the MSC program. Currently all pelagic fisheries in Iceland and over 90% (by volume) of all landings are certified.

ISF was set up in 2012 to be the fishery client group for the Icelandic seafood industry. The group aims to gain MSC certification for all Icelandic fish stocks and now counts over 50 membership companies.

Historically, anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius – a type of monkfish) were caught in the bottom trawl fishery, but fishing has developed to gillnets and other gear.  From 2000 to 2007 most of the gillnet fishery’s catches took place in the south of Iceland, but since 2008 most of its fishing grounds are now in the west of Iceland.  In recent years the work of the main fishery has taken place in late summer and into the winter. The annual landings have been less than 1000 metric tonnes a year for the last 3 years.

Gears that have been certified under this assessment assessed are bottom trawl, nephrops trawl, Danish seine, gillnet, longline and anglerfish gillnet.

The United Kingdom is the most important market for anglerfish product, taking over 60% of the export and about 70% of the total export is sold as fresh (tails). Other important markets for Icelandic anglerfish are Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Benelux. These are markets where the MSC blue label products are already widely sold.

Kristinn Hjálmarsson the Project manager of ISF said:

“We are proud that anglerfish is the latest addition to our MSC certified fisheries. The catch quantity is not much – only 853 tons this fishing year – which makes the cost of certification expensive per ton. However, that does not change the fact that we want to be sustainable. Size doesn’t matter and neither does quantity. Hopefully, consumers will appreciate the effort to bring large and small quantity species from sustainable sources to their plate.”

Gísli Gíslason the MSC Senior Programme Manager in Iceland, Faroe and Greenland says: “MSC congratulates ISF on their certification. This certification is further evidence that MSC’s approach of providing incentives for fisheries to make further improvements to their practices is working. As fisheries see others working in their field being rewarded by winning access to MSC retail markets, they have been encouraged to obtain certification for themselves.

Iceland is becoming one of countries with the highest number of certified fisheries. This has only been possible due to strong industry, science, management and the leadership of the fishery client ISF. One could almost conclude that if the product is Icelandic in origin then it comes from an MSC certified fishery.”


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