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Jersey / Normandy Lobster Fishery Awarded Marine Stewardship Council Accreditation

Date: 20/06/2011 | Posted by John Garton
Jersey lobsters can now be marketed locally and throughout Europe carrying the prestigious MSC logo (Marine Stewardship Council), giving consumers the guarantee that they are purchasing lobsters from a certified sustainable and well managed fishery.

The accreditation comes after 20 months of in depth examination of every aspect of the fishery, which is jointly managed by Jersey and Normandy and distinguishes the fishery as the only lobster fishery in Europe to have attained the accreditation and one of only a few 'cross frontier' fisheries world wide, to have been awarded MSC status.

Importantly the accreditation is a recognition of the positive and ongoing collaboration between Jersey and Basse Normandy, where sustainable management of the fisheries resource is enshrined in the historic 'Bay of Granville Agreement'.

In Jersey it represents something of a milestone in the constructive and equally positive working relationship between the Jersey Fishermen's Association, Jersey's Department of Fisheries and the States Economic Development Department, who have funded the work to attain the accreditation.

The MSC certification of the fishery, comes in the wake of the the recent highly successful week long Jersey Food Festival and in the lead up to the August Jersey Fish Festival, events which celebrate our maritime culture and which have helped to establish Jersey as one of Europe's top food or 'gastro tourism' destinations. 'Genuine Jersey', the initiative to raise the profile of locally caught and locally grown produce, has played an important role in both events and has championed the local lobster fishery over the past 3 years. The accreditation now puts Jersey firmly on the European map and promotes the image of an island, famous not just for its finance industry, but equally importantly, for its seafood and agricultural produce.

Jersey Fishermen's Association spokesman said that; 'good fisheries management  comes from the ground up. It is a marriage of fishermen's initiative with good science, backed by ongoing research and data collection, along with practical enforcement'.

'The news has been well received in Jersey, where fishermen have over the years, played a leading role in developing  measures to help conserve the stocks. The fishery is in pretty good shape, with 2010 catches reaching the highest ever recorded level of 225,000 kilos, representing around 65% of the overall value of fisheries in the island'.

'Nevertheless, we live in extremely difficult times, where against a backdrop of spiralling production costs, we have seen prices remain static for over a decade. With drastic EU driven, quota reductions on fin-fish species, a lot of fishing effort in the UK has shifted into the largely unregulated shellfish sector, resulting at times in a glut of crab and lobster on continental markets, depressing  demand and making life difficult for both fishermen and for our merchants.'

'With lobster perceived as a luxury food item and consumers with less disposable income, sales have not been as strong over the last 18 months as we would like.'

The accreditation is however, a great achievement and will set out lobsters apart in Europe.  Sales for sustainably caught fish are increasing as a result of public awareness, following much negative media coverage centred on the decline of some  important species in European waters, we would expect to see demand for MSC labelled, Jersey Lobsters improve in the ensuing months.