Dutch fishermen’s organisation, Nederlandse Vissersbond says that there will be more accurate checks on the supply of plaice in 2022 through auctions after incidents of undersize fish being found in September 2021.
In a statement, the Nederlandse Vissersbond/PO Delta Zuid team said:
During checks on Saturday 11 and Monday 13 September 2021, the fisheries inspectors of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) seized a significant amount of undersized plaice based on samples in the catch. This gave rise to the impression that most cutters had supplied a lot of undersized plaice. The problem is largely due to the machine sorting by weight. For this reason, the procedure has been modified. This is a joint message of the POs and exits.
Legal minimum size and tolerance margin
The legal minimum length for plaice is 27 centimetres regardless of weight. Moreover, no tolerance margin applies to the minimum length. The standard is zero percent.
Machine sorting custom procedure
The Cooperative Fisheries Organization (CVO) and the National Consultation for Fish Auctions (NOVA) have concluded that the existing procedure for determining the conversion from length to weight has not resulted in sufficient selection for undersized fish. The problem is largely due to the fact that during part of the year the smallest plaice (plaice 4) has a relatively high weight in relation to its length (thick plaice). As a result of this observation, the mechanical sorting procedure has been adjusted:
The minimum weight associated with plaice of 27 centimeters is set monthly on the basis of statistical experience figures per month. In previous years, the Urk fish auction has collected information about lengths per weight (see table below). This conversion is checked weekly by the quality manager and will be adjusted if necessary.
All plaice below the minimum weight are sorted separately and then registered and sold as BMS (undersized). Upon determination of:
3 – 5% of the sorting below the set minimum weight, the cutter is requested by the auction to take measures.
More than 5% of the sorting below the set minimum weight, the lot of plaice will be sorted manually at the cutter’s expense.
Control and enforcement
For manual sorting, the normal working method will apply, but all auctions will intensify the random checks. There is no tolerance margin for manual sorting either . The standard is zero percent. All plaice below the minimum length is kept separately and then registered and sold as BMS (undersized). In the presence of undersized plaice, the cutter is requested to take measures.
At the express request of the Producer Organizations (CVO), reports of the presence of undersized fish will be collected by NOVA and reported to both the CVO and the PO of which the vessel is a member. In case of (repeated) violation, sanctions are possible.
The CVO and NOVA ask all fisheries entrepreneurs to respect the minimum size. Despite understanding of the financial pressure on the entrepreneurs in the short term, good management with good stewardship is of great importance in the longer term. If you have any questions about the method and implementation, please contact your PO.