Iconic Scottish mackerel fishery achieves prestigious Marine Stewardship Council ecolabel

The commitment of Scottish pelagic fishermen to a sustainable future has been underlined by the certification of the North East Atlantic mackerel fishery with the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel.

Over 700 northern European mackerel fishing vessels from Scotland, Denmark, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France and Lithuania participated in the MSC certification, which was achieved on 11 May.

John Goodlad, chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG), said mackerel was Scotland’s most important fishery in terms of value and volume, and gaining MSC certification highlighted the sector’s determination to fish responsibly and ensure a sustainable future for the sector.

“It is fantastic to see that the sustainable practices carried out in this iconic fishery have been recognised by achieving the much coveted MSC ecolabel,” he said.

“MSC certification gives a clear message to consumers that the mackerel they buy is sustainably caught and comes from a responsible and well managed fishery.

“The MSC stamp of approval also gives an important boost to Scottish fishermen and processors and will aid marketing mackerel around the world. We firmly believe that mackerel should be a staple item in our shopping baskets – it is after all an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, and is particularly rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are so important for heart health.”

Ian Gatt, secretary of the SPSG and coordinator for the Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance (MINSA), which coordinated the programme for MSC reassessment, said it represented the largest ever international collaborative approach for such certification this side of the Atlantic.

“The fishing boats involved in the MSC certification range from small coastal handline vessels through to large ocean-going pelagic trawlers – and between them they will sustainably catch around 588,000 tonnes of mackerel in 2016 in the North East Atlantic,” he said.

He added: “We worked closely with Acoura Marine throughout the assessment process and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them through the annual audits of the fishery.”