The Norwegian Shellfish Conference heard about several exciting processes relating to MSC certification of new species including brown crab
The Norwegian Shellfish Conference 2023, held last week at The Hub in Oslo, heard about several exciting processes relating to the Marine Stewardship Council’s certification of species in Norway’s fisheries.
The event organised by the Norwegian Seafood Council was the first physical conference after three years of virtual conferences held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association’s Tor Bjørklund Larsen gave an update on the certification process for shrimp in the north, snow crab and brown crab.
Since 2010, a number of Norwegian fisheries have been certified according to the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) international standard for sustainable fishing. The voluntary labeling scheme is important for maintaining both prices and markets for Norwegian fish.
Norway is one of the world’s largest individual MSC clients and it is Tor Bjørklund Larsen who, on behalf of the Seafood Council, the sales teams and the Fishermen’s Association, works with the certification scheme on behalf of the Norwegian fishermen.
Brand is important
Tor Bjørklund Larsen pointed out in the conference that the branding scheme has mixed market effects. At the same time, economic downturns and inflation do not seem to change the anchoring important markets have towards preferring sustainability-labelled products.
“MSC is an organization and standard that we have to deal with both today and in the future,” Bjørklund Larsen told the attendees at the conference.
Shrimp in the north
The first certification of northern shrimp was completed in 2012. The fishery was recertified in 2018 and the current certificate is valid until September 09 this year.
A new main certification is in progress
“The fishery has always had conditions to put harvesting rules in place in order to keep the certificate. This work is now finally making real progress in the Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission. We are relieved that MSC granted our recent application for an extended deadline to get this in place from November 2025. This is a realistic time frame, but still busy if we want to get this in place in the administration,” he said.
Towards the end of 2022, the snow crab certification work started.
This is a new certification project that is well underway, and the plan is for the work to be completed by February 2024. The prospects for the certification to be successful are good, but current topics for discussion in the future will be whether the snow crab is an introduced species or has migrated itself to The Barents Sea, as well as the fleet’s measures to minimise ghost fishing.
The best-known Norwegian crab species is among several commercial species that are not certified as of now. This is now about to change.
Hitramat and Fiskarlaget have agreed on a collaborative project to certify the brown crab, where Hitramat covers 50% of the direct costs, and the environmental certification project covers the other half. The Fishermen’s Association will then become a formal client as in other Norwegian certificates, and the scheme will be open to all Norwegian crab fishermen regardless of their relationship with Hitramat.
HitraMat AS is Norway’s leading and Europe’s largest player in the processing of brown crab.
“This is a project that is completely in the starting pit, and which will be exciting because it will be one of the world’s first fisheries that must make use of MSC’s new fisheries standard (“version 3.0”) which came into force on 01 May,” expalined Tor Bjørklund Larsen.