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News|11 Aug, 2006

Swedish fisheries awarded MSC eco-label

Swedish fishermen from Lake Hjälmaren (on left) receive MSC certification for their pikeperch fisheries

Pikeperch fisheries in Sweden’s Lake Hjälmaren have become the world’s first freshwater fisheries to be certified under the Marine Stewardship Council’s environmental standard for sustainable fishing.

Hjälmaren, Sweden – Gill-net and fish-trap fisheries for pikeperch in Sweden’s Lake Hjälmaren have become the world’s first freshwater fisheries to be certified under the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) environmental standard. They are also Sweden’s first fisheries to become certified under the international sustainable fishing scheme.

“This certification marks an important step in the history of the MSC as it shows that our environmental standard is applicable to not only marine, but freshwater fisheries as well,” said MSC Chief Executive Rupert Howes.

“We hope that the Lake Hjälmaren certification will convince many other inshore fisheries to apply for certification.”

MSC certification seeks to maximize the ecological health and abundance of a fish species, as well as maintain the diversity, structure and function of the ecosystem on which it depends.

In total, there are 50 fisheries now engaged in the MSC programme. Together they record annual catches of over 3.5 million tonnes of seafood, representing 42 per cent of the world’s wild salmon catch and 32 per cent of the world’s prime whitefish catch. Twenty-one fisheries, including the Lake Hjälmaren fisheries, are MSC certified.

The MSC eco-label helps assure consumers that their seafood product was caught in an environmentally sustainable and responsible manner – helping to solve, not contribute to, crises facing the world’s fisheries.

In 1996, WWF and Unilever, one of the world’s biggest buyers of frozen fish, started the MSC initiative to change the way fish are caught, marketed, and bought, and to help ensure the future of the world’s fisheries. As an independent, non-profit organization, the council works with fisheries, retailers, and other stakeholders to identify, certify, and promote responsible, environmentally appropriate and economically viable fishing practices around the world.

Pikeperch, also known as zander, are pelagic fish inhabiting fresh water reservoirs, rivers and lakes. Pikeperch grow relatively quickly and can weigh up to 20kg. Typical catches, however, are considerably smaller. On Lake Hjälmaren, fishermen catch pikeperch with gill nets during the ice season, and then with traps during the rest of the year.

“With more than 100,000 lakes, fishing has always been an integral part of Swedish society,” said Inger Näslund, a marine and fisheries conservation officer with WWF-Sweden.

“To make sure it stays this way, fishermen on Lake Hjälmaren have wisely opted for MSC certification. Their understanding and consideration of the lake’s ecosystem have now been rewarded and this recognition should now open new markets in Europe.”

The flesh of pikeperch is white, juicy and tender and contains little fat. Many restaurants throughout Europe, as well as the United States, have re-discovered the freshwater fish in recent years.

“As demand for this fish grows, we want to make sure that catches are sustainable and that the stock can continue to thrive,” Näslund added.

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For further information:

Inger Näslund, Marine and Fisheries Conservation Officer
Tel: +46 8 624 74 09

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