Small-scale Swedish freshwater fishery gains international recognition through MSC

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Source: Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Swedish small-scale pike-perch fishery has been successfully re-assessed against the MSC environmental standard, and can once again be sold to key European fresh fish markets with the blue ecolabel.

Overcoming challenges

The fishery was the world’s first freshwater fishery and the first Swedish fishery to become MSC certified in 2006. The 30 fishermen working on picturesque Lake Hjälmaren - the 4th biggest water reserve in the country of over 100,000 lakes - have once again been rewarded for their sustainable practices and good management.

'It is great to see the MSC certification once again in the hands of the fishermen in Hjälmaren.. We are very pleased that this iconic fishery has been able to overcome challenges in collecting stock status data for small-scale fisheries and can now be rewarded by international recognition of their good management”, Says Charlotta Järnmark, WWF.

Certification adds value

'We are very pleased to once again be able to mark our fish with the MSC ecolabel which will give us a better price on the market. The price has already increased significantly since last week' says Anders Eriksson, 17th generation of pike-perch fishers in Lake Hjälmaren.

Working together

'We congratulate the fishermen in Hjälmaren for their dedication. MSC certification calls for collaboration between government agencies, environmental organizations, fishers and research institutions, to work together for sustainable fishing practices in an industry which is increasingly seeking to source sustainably' says Minna Epps, MSC Baltic Sea Region.

Environmental impact

The fishers employ traps during the warm months and apply set nets under the ice in the winter. Both are stationary, low-impact fishing gears which catch 150 to 200 tonnes of pike-perch per year. Lake Hjälmaren’s main spawning and nursery areas are well known and are closed during the spawning season.

Continuous improvements

After five years, MSC certified fisheries have to be re-assessed - to ensure that they still meet the standard and are continuing to improve where necessary. The basis for improvements is laid out in actions plans. Most MSC certified fisheries, including the Swedish pike-perch fishery, receive an action plan. Progress in implementing the action plan is checked each year during an annual surveillance audit. The fishery successfully completed all action plans in the first round of certification and helped to improve knowledge on the Hjälmaren ecosystem and pike-perch stock structure.

Pike-perch for the eco-conscious consumer

Pikeperch, also known as zander, are pelagic fish inhabiting lakes and rivers in north and central Europe. They are fast predators and grow live over 20 years and grow to 20 kg. The flesh of the fish is white, juicy and tender and contains little fat for the healthy and sustainably aware consumer. Pike-perch is mainly sold fresh to Germany, Austria and France.

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