Natura 2000 and fishery alliance

In a striking alliance, the traditional brown shrimp fisheries of the North Sea, with a first hand sale value in excess of €35M, are working with a range of environmental NGOs to seek Marine Stewardship Council certification as a well managed fishery. The Crangon Project, established in 2005 to ensure that the fisheries upheld the best environmental management principles required of an internationally significant Natura 2000 site, has contracted Food Certification International (FCI) to work closely with them on MSC certification. A sizeable research programme intended to clearly demonstrate the sustainability credentials of these fisheries is underway. FCI will work closely with the research teams so that both the research and certification programmes may be brought into alignment for the MSC assessment of the fishery to be undertaken in early 2009.

The core fisheries for this short-lived shrimp take place in the Wadden Sea, a large shallow water area landward of a line of boundary islets (the Frisian Islands) that stretches from Den Helder in the Netherlands in the southwest, past the Ems, Jade, Wessel and Elbe river estuaries of Germany to its northern boundary at Skallingen north of Esbjerg in Denmark. This covers a total length of some 500 km and a total area of about 10,000 km². The fisheries to be assessed will include the Dutch and German Wadden Sea fisheries, the Danish fishery (which takes place seaward of the Wadden Sea), the estuary fisheries of southern Holland and northern Belgium, and the English fisheries in the Wash.

On-going work involves a focus on bringing the stock assessment and fishery management into alignment with MSC requirements, completing research on various elements of fishery interaction with the environment (focused on gear / seabed interactions, and the impacts of bycatch and discards), and verifying that industry practices meet and exceed minimum standards of good practice.

The FCI MSC assessment is headed by Crick Carleton from Nautilus, assisted by Dr Paul Medley, stock assessment and fisheries management specialist, and Tristan Southall, fishery industry and marine environment specialist. The main collaborators are the Dutch Fisheries Foundation and the North Sea Foundation, and the client group is headed by Kees Lankester, and liaison between the client and the assessment team is facilitated by the group’s senior scientist, Dr Bert Keus.