“If we want to be sustainable, there is no way around this”
Invited to Denmark by the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Charlina Vitcheva, the European Commission’s Director General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), visited Skagen this week to learn about the management and control of pelagic landings in Denmark.
Marine Ingredients Denmark, the Danish association of fishmeal and fish oil producers, participated.
The aim of the visit was to allow the Danish industry to demonstrate its technical solutions to the treatment of unsorted pelagic fish landings. Particular attention has been paid to a specific requirement of the EU Control Regulation that fishermen must estimate in their logbook the exact weight of all bycatch above 50 kg in the catch. This is a requirement that cannot be met in pelagic catches.
According to Marine Ingredients Denmark, pelagic landings are not sorted because the fish are pumped directly from the fishing gear into the vessels’ tanks without any sorting taking place on board. Small volumes of species other than the target fish may be caught as bycatch.
It was explained during the visit that bycatch in pelagic fisheries is not in itself a problem, and the most sustainable fishery will include small levels of bycatch – the key is management, accountability and control appropriate. This is why sampling and recording bycatch is so important when fish are landed for production.
“In Denmark, the sampling and determination of all species in catches follows strict sampling plans incorporated into national regulations,” explained Anne Mette Bæk, Managing Director of the Danish and European Fishmeal Associations.
‘When unsorted pelagic landings are landed for the production of fishmeal and fish oil, the total catch and bycatch is recorded by certified third party inspectors, and the total amount of bycatch of each species is calculated and charged against quotas. This way we can ensure that all species caught are recorded and fished within quota limits. ‘
Summarizing her visit to Skagen, Charlina Vitcheva commented on what she found to be a very professional industry.
“This professional industry has demonstrated today, through the use of modern technology, that it is very attached to transparency and that trust is at the heart of its concerns,” she said.
“Fish stocks are natural resources and we who use them have a responsibility to ensure their sustainability,” said Anne Mette Bæk.
“Therefore, trust is part of a social contract with the company, a business license and, as such, one of our main goals. With the use of independent third-party inspectors to manage the weighing and sampling of species, we have developed a transparent and efficient system that cannot be compromised. ‘
The host of the day, President of European Fishmeal and CEO of Denmark’s largest fishmeal factory, FF Skagen, said:
“As we in the fishmeal industry want to be seen as sustainable, there is no way around this,” added Jóhannes Pálsson, president of European Fishmeal and CEO of the largest factory in fishmeal from Denmark, FF Skagen, who organized the visit to Skagen.
“We have worked hard to implement modern technological solutions in the factory with an emphasis on sustainability and traceability. All based on the industry standard for drainage and weighing of unsorted pelagic landings for the production of fishmeal and fish oil, developed and signed by all members of European Fishmeal. We strongly encourage all fishmeal factories operating around the North East Atlantic and Baltic Sea to introduce similar systems. ‘
“In Denmark, we have probably the strictest rules in the world regarding the landing of unsorted pelagic species,” added Jes Bjerregaard, president of Marine Ingredients Denmark and CEO of TripleNine Group.
“But the challenges he posed are far outweighed by the fact that the rules ensure that a kilo is always a kilo.”