Barents Sea Opilio Trap Fishing has received MSC certification

Two more Russian fisheries in the Barents Sea have achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.
The Russia Barents Sea Greenland Halibut Fishery and Opilio Trap Fishery catching snow crab, have been awarded MSC certification as sustainable and well-managed fisheries.


As a result, their catch, sold to markets in Europe, US and Russia, will now be available for retailers, brands and restaurants to sell with the globally recognised blue MSC label.

“Congratulations to these fisheries on achieving certification to the MSC’s globally recognised standards for sustainable fishing,” says Camiel Derichs, Program Development Director at the MSC. “We hope that during the coming years these fisheries will continue to work with scientists and NGOs to deliver the improvements required as conditions of their ongoing certification. These include improvements to harvest strategies and data collection which will contribute to the long-term sustainability of marine ecosystems.”

Sergey Nesvetov, Executive Director of North West Fishing Consortium said: “In 2016 we committed to achieving MSC certification for all of the fisheries that are part of the North West Fishing Consortium. These latest certifications complete this commitment and is a proud moment for our organisation. Sustainable and responsible seafood production is an essential part of our business model. I’d like to thank all those who have supported us in this achievement”

These certifications were awarded by independent certifier Lloyd’s Register following detailed assessments and stakeholder consultation. They bring the total number of MSC certified fisheries in Russia to 42 of which 18 are in the Russian Barents Sea.

Snow crab fishery

The certified fishery holds 70% of the quota for commercial snow crab in Russia’s exclusive economic zone which has a Total Allowable Catch of 9,840 tonnes. This snow crab fishery and the already-certified Russian red king crab fishery are part of the Association of Crab Catchers of North.  

The fishery has 12 crab-catching vessels each catching between 5 and 10 tonnes of snow crab per day usually from March to June. They use traps partly made from biodegradable material. Snow crab, also known as opilio crab, is not native in the Barents Sea. Genetic studies show that it most likely came from the Bering Strait. 

Greenland halibut fishery 

The halibut fishery is made up of two companies: The North-West Fishing Company-Murmansk and North Fisheries. It operates three vessels which fish in September, October and November. In 2019 these vessels caught 4,700 tonnes of Greenland halibut. Greenland halibut is a deep-water flatfish, distributed throughout the entire rim of the North Atlantic.

The fishery operates in the Norwegian and Russian Economic Zones and the Fishery Protection Zone around Svalbard. It is a joint Norwegian–Russian stock, managed by the Norwegian–Russian Fisheries Commission. 

The North-West Fishing Consortium

The North-West Fishing Consortium is made up of several fishing companies in Northwest Russia, including the North-West Fishing Company – Murmansk Ltd, North Fisheries Ltd and fishery companies that are members of the Association of Crab Catchers of North. In 2016 the Arkhangelsk Trawl Fleet, also a member of the Consortium, was MSC certified for its cod and haddock fisheries. 

The members of the Consortium have collaborated with scientists at the Polar Institute of Fishing and Oceanography (PINRO) and WWF-Russia to improve the fishing gear used by trawl fishers in the Barents Sea, reducing their impact on seabed habitats. They have also rolled out a detailed bycatch-recording system across the trawl fleet.

The companies in the Consortium provide a full set of processing operations including harvesting and processing at sea and on shore factories, transportation, repair and supply of vessels, and the distribution and sales of products in domestic and international markets. 

Source: Marine Stewardship Council