A LEADING Aberdeenshire councillor has expressed concern at the 90-day notice issued by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to suspend the certification of sustainability from the Scottish mackerel fishery.
In a statement released today Councillor Paul Johnston, leader of the Democratic Independent Councillors, said: "This is not due to the actions of Scottish pelagic fishermen. The Scottish fleet are currently fishing healthy stocks within a sustainable limit. The actions of Faroese and Icelandic governments in plunging the stock into an unsustainable position for future catches will now cause unnecessary loss for the North-east fish catching and processing sector."
The councillor went on to say that the position created by Iceland and Faroe meant an uncontrolled fishery as time went on and an increasing risk of stock problems.
“I understand that has led to the notification of the suspension and possible eventual withdrawal of the certification if the management going forward is not resolved...” he said.
The Councillor added that the prime concern for Aberdeenshire Council should be what impact this would have on existing catching and processing. “MSC certification loss requires substantial system and pack changes as well as potential loss of markets for what is currently a sustainable source of fish. Aberdeenshire Council should get a clear picture of what effect the loss would have and lobby where we can to get a resolution before the March 30 deadline arrives and it cannot be sold with the value MSC label of sustainability.”
Cllr Johnston has asked Aberdeenshire Council Head of Economic Development, Belinda Miller, to investigate. “The impact may not be immediate in employment and financial terms, but we need to know the consequences, when they arise if we not get the resolution.”
The suspension is not the same as a certificate withdrawal as suspended certificates can be re-instated on completion of a condition and with no need for a new full assessment of the fishery. Any fish caught before the March 30 deadline may still bear the MSC ecolabel, provided they comply with MSC Chain of Custody requirements for traceability and separation.
*AS already reported on fishnewseu.com today, Iceland’s new Fisheries Minister has underlined his country’s commitment to securing a “fair” settlement to the mackerel wrangle.