Northern Ireland is one step closer to a sustainable herring fishery.
If the small herring fishery wins the backing of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), it will be the first Irish Sea fishery to be certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery.
Yesterday, the MSC said the Northern Ireland Pelagic Sustainability Group (NIPSG) Irish Sea herring fishery had entered into MSC assessment.
The fishery will be assessed against the MSC’s environmental standard for sustainable fishing by independent certifier Food Certification International.
Three vessels catch Atlantic herring in the Irish Sea using pelagic trawls, operating between June and November.
The total catch for last year was just over 5,200 tonnes of herring, with fresh and frozen herring being sold into the UK and other EU markets.
Alan McCulla, chief executive of the Anglo-North Irish FPO Ltd and secretary to the NIPSG, said: “We are eager to deliver MSC certification for Irish Sea herring.
“In many ways it was herring that formed the foundation of the fishing industry in Northern Ireland, so it is fitting that this fishery represents our first venture into this important process.”
UK & Ireland Fisheries Outreach manager Claire Pescod said: “If granted, MSC certification will provide the Northern Irish herring industry with an independent demonstration of sustainability to markets that are increasingly looking for MSC-labelled herring.”
The assessment is expected to take around 12 months and anyone with a stake in the fishery is invited to become involved.
Food Certification International has already identified six groups of potential stakeholders.
Anyone with information to contribute can contact Melissa McFadden at FCI on Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org.