Dutch retailers give 100% backing to MSC standard – Fishupdate.com

Dutch retailers give 100% backing to MSC standard Published:  13 December, 2007

IN an “incredible” move, the Dutch retail sector has united to work towards selling only sustainable fish and seafood. From 2011, all wild-caught fish and seafood at every food retail chain in the Netherlands will come from sustainable fisheries that are certified to the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) environmental standard.

Over 4,500 stores in the Netherlands are committed to this market transformation, including well-known chains such as Albert Heijn, Laurus, C1000, Super Unie and Super de Boer. The MSC’s Chief Executive Rupert Howes tonight highlighted the significance of their announcement: “This is an incredible, ambitious and ground-breaking initiative: The entire supermarket sector of a major European nation committing to source 100 percent of its wild seafood supplies from MSC-certified fisheries. I have no doubt that this bold move will deliver real and lasting change in the marine environment and will contribute to ensuring the sustainability of seafood supplies for this and future generations. The MSC is looking forward to working closely with the Dutch Association of Food Retail and its members over the coming years to ensure this commitment becomes a reality.”

The initiative was announced yesterday at a conference of the Dutch Association of Food Retail (Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelenhandel, CBL) Marc Janssen, Head of Quality and Consumer Affairs at CBL, said on the sector’s decision: “Fish consumption in the Netherlands is rising because Dutch consumers have come to appreciate the high nutritional value of fish. At the same time they are increasingly aware of sustainability issues and are asking how the fish they buy has been caught. In the past, the Dutch food industry has focussed on food safety when it came to quality control. With meat, vegetable and fruit we have learned that you cannot ignore sustainability issues and we want to make use of this knowledge when it comes to fish. All these aspects have led to our decision to aim for a completely sustainable fish and seafood offer.”

Camiel Derichs, MSC’s North European Fisheries Manager and based in The Hague, adds: “From 2011, over 16 million Dutch consumers will be able to go to any supermarket in their country and choose from a broad range of sustainably caught fish. The blue MSC eco-label will make it easy for them to reward responsible fishing practices.”

Kees Lankester, member of the MSC Board of Trustees, adds: “The MSC is moving from niche to mainstream markets. This nationwide colossal step by the Dutch retail chains sends a strong signal to the global fisheries sector that products from recognised responsible fisheries will increasingly have preferred market access.”

The association and its members will work with various organisations, including WWF and the North Sea Foundation, to achieve their aim of a fully sustainable fish and seafood offer. “We are delighted about this decision. It will hugely encourage local fisheries to go for certification as there will be a guaranteed market demand. The much needed transition of the Dutch catching sector will now get a giant boost,” said Christine Absil, Fisheries Policy Officer with the North Sea Foundation.

Carel Drijver, Head of WWF Netherlands’ Oceans & Coasts Programme, agrees and adds: “WWF is glad to work with the supermarkets on implementing their strategy and to collaborate with the fishers to get them to a stage where they can apply for MSC certification.”

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