Monkfish world first for Iceland
ICELAND is celebrating becoming the first country in the world to have its monkfish stocks officially certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
The popular high-end restaurant species – better known in Iceland as known as anglerfish – is managed by ISF (Iceland Sustainable Fisheries) and this is the eighth time where ISF has been the first to have a new variety certified in an MSC programme.
ISF, which includes over 50 membership companies, was set up in 2012 to be the fishery client group for the Icelandic seafood industry. Its ultimate aim is to gain MSC certification for all Icelandic fish stocks.
Historically, anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius) were caught in the bottom trawl fishery, but fishing has developed to gillnets and other gear.
Between 2000 and 2007 most of the gillnet fishery’s catches took place in the south of Iceland, but since 2008 most of its fishing grounds are now in the west of the country.
In recent years the work of the main fishery has taken place in late summer and into the winter.
The annual landings have been less than 1,000 tonnes a year for the last three years.
The UK is the most important market for Icelandic monkfish, taking more than 60 per cent of the export and about 70 per cent of the total export is sold as fresh (tails).
Gísli Gíslason, MSC senior programme manager in Iceland, Faroe and Greenland, said ISF should be congratulated on its work.
‘This certification is further evidence that MSC’s approach of providing incentives for fisheries to make further improvements to their practices is working.
‘As fisheries see others working in their field being rewarded by winning access to MSC retail markets, they have been encouraged to obtain certification for themselves.’
Kristinn Hjálmarsson, the project manager of ISF, said: ‘We are proud that anglerfish is the latest addition to our MSC certified fisheries.
‘The catch quantity is not much – only 853 tonnes this fishing year – which makes the cost of certification expensive per ton.
‘However, that does not change the fact that we want to be sustainable. Size doesn’t matter and neither does quantity.
‘Hopefully, consumers will appreciate the effort to bring large and small quantity species from sustainable sources to their plate.’