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Commercial Fishing



A southwest fishery adds responsible fishing scheme to its bow. Poole Harbour clam and cockle fishery has reaped the benefits of an industry certification project and now boasts both Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) credentials.

14 vessels in total from the fishery recently achieved RFS certified status, adding to their MSC certification, meaning the fishery has been recognised for best practice in environmental sustainability through MSC, while their skippers and their vessels have been recognised for their high standards and social responsibility through RFS.

Fishing for clam and cockle in Poole Harbour is carried out using a hydraulic pump-scoop dredge operated by under 10m vessels, a fishing method unique to the fishery.

The success of the project has helped to demonstrate the synergies between the MSC and the RFS, and how the two certification schemes complement one another.

The groundbreaking project is a joint initiative between the Poole and District Fishermen’s Association (PDFA) and the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA), with further support from the MSC and Seafish.

Seafish, the public body that supports the £10bn UK seafood industry, helped part fund it through their Strategic Investment Programme last year.

The double certification is especially welcome as Seafood Week is on the horizon (5-12 October) meaning consumers can now tuck into clams which are certified as responsibly caught from a sustainable fishery.

Helen Duggan, Head of RFS Transition, said:

“This is another key milestone for the RFS and we were very keen to support this project through funding and on the ground support from the RFS team.

“The certification schemes work in tandem to deliver a world leading example of supply chain assurance for fisheries and seafood buyers.

“The achievement also provides deserved recognition for the Poole harbour fishery for all of their hard work and commitment to sustainability and social best practice, and they are welcome additions to the RFS.”

Robert Clark, Chief Officer, Southern IFCA, said:

“”Southern IFCA has worked hard with the fishing community and other local interests to ensure a balance in the fishery between social, environmental and economic considerations with the aim to ensure healthy seas, sustainable fisheries and a viable industry.

“We are delighted to have worked with the Poole fishermen, in partnership, to gain certification of their fishery, against these internationally recognised criteria, and through this ensure that the improvements made to the fishery are visible at the market.”

Claire Pescod, Senior Fisheries Outreach Manager at MSC, added:

“Achieving MSC certification, to showcase the environmental sustainability credentials of the fishery, and RFS certification for the high standards and social responsibility of skippers and vessels, is a great achievement.  Well done to everyone involved in the Poole Harbour clam and cockle fishery whose hard work to implement changes has lead to this double certification.

This project has shown how the RFS and MSC standards complement each other and that they are not mutually exclusive.”

Earlier this year, Seafish announced that the Responsible Fishing Scheme is moving to the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s new Global Seafood Assurances (GSA) programme, with transition due to complete no later than May 2020. Seafish and GSA are working in partnership to grow and promote the RFS in the UK throughout this transition period.