North Sea Herring Fishery honoured in MSC UK Sustainable Seafood Awards

North Sea Herring Fishery honoured in MSC UK Sustainable Seafood Awards

The Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG), part of the client group for an MSC certified North Sea Herring fishery, won the MSC UK Ocean Leadership award last night (20 October) in recognition for the efforts they have gone to conducting an industry-science data collection programme across their pelagic operations.

For the first time the awards, now in their 9th year, were held at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, in Aberdeen, Scotland in recognition of the city’s strong links to the fishing industry.

Dr Steven Mackinson, chief scientific officer for the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We are thrilled to have won this award, which recognises the commitment of the Scottish pelagic fishing industry in securing a sustainable future.

“The pelagic industry-science data collection programme is an excellent example of how strong collaboration between the fishing industry, and academic and government institutions can lead to more informed outcomes for stock assessments and management advice on pelagic stocks.”

The North Sea Herring fishery, certified since 2008 is one of the longest running certified fisheries in the UK. The SPSG component of the fishery oversees 23 trawlers which catch herring in the mid and surface water range around the North Sea.

Since 2018, SPSG has conducted an industry-science data collection programme across their pelagic operations including the North Sea autumn spawning herring fishery. In 2020, vessels took on responsibilities under a new co-sampling scheme whereby crew collect samples that are analysed by Marine Scotland and used to submit data on age, sex and maturity of pelagic fish to ICES stock assessments.

From January 2022, the co-sampling scheme has replaced onshore sampling by Marine Scotland and been adopted under Scotland’s national sampling programme to become the sole mechanism for collecting biological data on the catches of pelagic fish by the Scottish fleet.

Katie Keay, Senior Fisheries Outreach Manager, who presented the award, said: “The SPSG’s sampling programme is truly an example of Ocean Leadership and contributes to the sustainability of the fishery. It demonstrates co-management in practice that not only aligns with the existing national sampling programme but is also of use to scientists at an international level.”

This year’s award was handmade by eco homeware company Rawr from crushed mussel and scallop shells from the MSC certified fisheries in Shetland which have featured in MSC’s Sustainable Seafood Week campaigns of 2022 and 2020.

David Cameron, Lord Provost of Aberdeen, gave a video welcome to the awards, which took place on October 20, 2022, while Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, gave the keynote address also via video. Seafood Scotland sponsored the awards.

MSC UK ambassador, acclaimed restaurateur, chef and author, Mitch Tonks, was on the expert judging panel along with CJ Jackson, from the Billingsgate Seafood School, Marcus Coleman chief executive of Seafish,  Dr Eleanor Adamson, Fisheries Programme Manager at the Fishmongers’ Company and Dr Bryce Stewart from the University of York.