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Polish Cod Fishery in MSC Sustainability Assessment

25 November 2013

POLAND - Marine Stewardship Council assessors are testing the sustainability of the Eastern Baltic cod fishery - the first fishery from Poland to enter into assessment against the MSC standard.

If successful, the fishery will be eligible to show the blue MSC ecolabel on its cod catch from the Eastern Baltic Sea. The MSC ecolabel is the world’s best known mark for sustainably caught fish, with consumer recognition in major European markets of 23 to 55 per cent.

The Poland Eastern Baltic cod fishery is made up of five fishing organizations with 134 vessels. The fishers use trawls, long lines and gillnets to catch cod (Gadus morhua) in the Eastern Baltic Sea. Their annual total catch amounts to 5,500 tons on average. The cod from this fishery is sold mainly on the domestic market and is exported to European countries such as Germany and France.

The Eastern Baltic has benefited from reduced fishing pressure, increased spawning rates and a long term management plan which has seen the cod stock rebuild to healthy levels. Danish and German fisheries harvesting the stock have already achieved MSC certification and report greater market recognition for their catch.

Environmental benefits in Eastern Baltic

Marcin Radkowski, president of the Ko?obrzeska Grupa Producentów Rybs, one of the five fishing organizations said: "We are taking up the challenge and are having our fishing activities assessed for environmental sustainability. By means of the certificate we want to show that we use the fishing resource in a responsible manner and that we are ready to confirm this through an independent auditor. We are certain that we have made the right decision in applying for assessment as the MSC standard is considered the world’s most rigorous and comprehensive set of criteria for sustainable fishing and the MSC ecolabel has a high level of acceptance and recognition."

Anna Debicka, MSC’s project manager in Poland, commented: “The MSC program is helping fisheries worldwide improve their performance, to the benefit of the marine environment and - ultimately - livelihoods. It is great to see a Polish fishery seeking to join other certified fisheries already harvesting Eastern Baltic cod. Their participation will bring further improvements to fisheries management in the region, and deliver more environmental benefits for the Baltic marine ecosystem. They are helping promote the transformation of the Polish seafood market to a sustainable basis, and maintain seafood as a key resource for the region.”

Support from BalticSea2020 Foundation

MSC’s involvement in Poland is made possible by support from the BalticSea2020 Foundation. The aim of the partnership is to accelerate the introduction of the MSC certification and to raise awareness of the MSC ecolabel in the entire Baltic Sea region.

“With 40 million inhabitants and a large Baltic Sea fishing fleet and industry, Poland is an important country for the MSC to be present in. We think it is of great value that a Polish fishery has joined the MSC program. If successful, the Polish people will know that the fish they purchase is fished on sustainable and well managed Baltic fish stocks,” said Conrad Stralka, executive director BalticSea2020.

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