SPFA is committed to supporting the sustainable fishing of pelagic stocks. The Association was a founder member of the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG) established in 2007 to take forward a number of sustainability initiatives emanating from the joint industry/departmental Pelagic Strategy Group.
SPSG has since published its own sustainability policy, co-funded scientific research, supported the Scottish pelagic processing protocol and promoted the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme to member vessels.
SPSG recognises the importance of fisheries being independently certified as being sustainable, with North East Atlantic Mackerel, North Sea herring, Atlanto-Scandian herring and blue whiting all certified under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel scheme.
To further enhance the sustainability aims of the SPFA, a chief scientific officer has been appointed to the association to spearhead marine research to boost our understanding of key pelagic fish stocks and improve their management.
The appointment represents an innovative new approach to fisheries management where fishing vessels will play a significant role in collecting and disseminating scientific information on fish stocks.
The fishing methods utilised by SPFA members are sustainable in other ways too. A recent study by the NAFC Marine Centre in Shetland found that the carbon footprint of the Shetland mackerel trawl fishery is low compared to land-based food production.
The study estimated that the carbon footprint of the fishery is approximately 0.4 t CO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) released per tonne of fish captured.
This is significantly lower than those reported for other land-based meat production systems in the UK such as beef (10.6-19.2 t CO2e), sheep (11.0-13.6 t CO2e), pork (3.5-4.4 t CO2e) and chicken (4.6-6.7 t CO2e).
To put this into context, the carbon footprint of the mackerel fishery is 8.5 times lower than the best scoring meat and up to 47 times lower than the worst.
More information on Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group at www.spsg.co.uk