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“Worthless deal, with African consumers and EU taxpayers as biggest losers”

Press release

Brussels, 27 July 2012

European pelagic freezer trawler owners unanimously condemn EU-Mauritania deal:

“Worthless deal, with African consumers and EU taxpayers as biggest losers”

Reacting to the agreement between the European Commission and the Mauritanian government concluded on a new Fisheries Protocol in Nouakchott on 26 July, all EU pelagic freezer trawler owners strongly condemn the value and rationale of the agreement.

“The deal the Commission has just signed does not make any sense. There will be no winners, only losers. The EU pelagic fleet does not get any commercially viable fishing opportunities and fisheries in the region will not become any more sustainable. As a consequence, African consumers will have less access to affordable fish as valuable protein, African and European seamen will lose their jobs and EU taxpayers will not get any value for nearly 70 million euros a year. On top of that, pelagic fleet owners are being asked to pay a further 37 million euro”, said Gerard van Balsfoort on behalf of all pelagic freezer trawler owners.

“The new protocol is imposing unrealistic conditions for pelagic fisheries, making the agreement worthless. It will lead to zero use of the pelagic part of the agreement. In essence, the Commission intends to pay Mauritania millions for an empty shell,” he continued.

“This agreement creates a lose-lose situation for all, except for non transparent fisheries in West Africa. Driving regulated, transparent and responsible EU vessels out of Mauritanian waters is not the answer to the environmental and social sustainability challenge we all agree to tackle. This deal does not promote, but hinder food security, employment and environmental sustainability in the region. As a fishing deal this agreement does not wash. If it is however an aid package for Mauritania then the EU needs to stand up and state this clearly, rather than masquerading it as a fishing deal,” van Balsfoort concluded.

Key facts about the pelagic freezer trawler fleet:
• Close to 100% of our fish caught in Africa goes to African consumers. Nigeria and the Ivory Coast are among our largest markets.
• Our global fish catch contributes millions of meals per day to African consumers year round.
• The former EU-Mauritanian Fisheries Partnership Agreement sets out clear rules to ensure sustainable fisheries, with which we fully comply.
• Apart from hundreds of EU seamen, we employ around 400 Mauritanians on board and provide training to locals.
• We have contributed to scientific fisheries research since 1996.
• We have always supported the sound management of pelagic species in the region.

For more information, please contact Gerard van Balsfoort (, +31.6.5141.1431

Mackerel certificates suspended by Certifiers

Apr 02, 2012
The certifiers for seven MSC certified mackerel fisheries in the North East Atlantic ocean have today suspended the fisheries’ certificates.
The suspension notice follows two years of catches above the scientific advice as a result of a significant increase in the amount of mackerel caught by countries outside the certified fleets and the breakdown of international agreements and negotiations aimed at managing the stock. In July 2010, the certified fisheries were notified that – in order to maintain their certification and ecolabel – total catches in the North East Atlantic mackerel fishery would need to be brought back under an internationally agreed management regime. This included the catches from countries outside the certified fleets. The deadline for implementing that notification expired on 31st December 2011.
The suspension is not the same as a certificate withdrawal as suspended certificates can be re-instated on completion of a condition with no need for a new Full Assessment.
While the MSC certified fisheries have worked hard to reach an international agreement on mackerel management, it proved impossible to find a solution in time for the deadline. As a result, in January the fisheries were given 90 days’ notice that their certificates would be suspended at the end of March 2012. Any mackerel caught after 30th March is not eligible to be labeled as ‘MSC certified’.
Fisheries affected
-    Danish Pelagic Producers Organisation North East Atlantic mackerel (DK)
-    Irish Pelagic Sustainability Association western mackerel (IE)
-    Irish Pelagic Sustainability Group western mackerel pelagic trawl fishery (IE)
-    North East Atlantic mackerel pelagic trawl, purse seine and handline fishery (NO)
-    Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association North East Atlantic mackerel (NL)
-    Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group North East Atlantic mackerel (UK)
-    Swedish Pelagic Producers Organisation North East Atlantic mackerel (SW)
Nicolas Guichoux, Europe Director of the Marine Stewardship Council said: “While the suspension of these MSC certificates is disappointing for both the fisheries and the MSC, there is a risk that the stock would become depleted as a result of the current TAC overshoot. I know that the fisheries involved are making enormous efforts to ensure that this does not happen and the MSC will continue to support these mackerel fisheries throughout this difficult process. I look forward to the reinstatement of their certificates once an agreement has been reached.”
Suspension, not withdrawal
The suspension is not the same as a certificate withdrawal as suspended certificates can be re-instated on completion of a condition with no need for a new Full Assessment of the fishery.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for PFA-North Sea Herring Fishery

The Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association (PFA) North Sea Herring Fishery has a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification as a sustainable fishery. At approximately 80,000 tonnes, it represents around 40% of the total allowable catch of North Sea Herring and is the largest fishery in Europe to have this status.
The certification is the result of an ongoing commitment by PFA members to ensure that the stocks they fish are sustainable, and thus available to feed large parts of the world's population in the future. MSC certified North Sea Herring from PFA members is available as a whole round seafrozen product, as fillets, and salted in barrels. Only limited quantities of the MSC herring are available for the consumer markets in Western Europe. More than 90% of the catch is destined for markets outside Western Europe, mainly West Africa, especially Nigeria, and for Egypt and China. The basic principle of the PFA is the continuity of the fishing industry, the supply of frozen pelagic fish to consumers must be in balance with pelagic fish stocks. The PFA-members have established a policy in which co-operation and the transfer of knowledge about sustainable fisheries play a central role. The MSC certification is a logical part of this process.
In May 2011, the PFA North Sea Herring Fishery certification was renewed for another 5 years.

PFA North East Atlantic mackerel fishery 50th MSC certified fishery

London, 10 July 2009 - Certified sustainable fisheries reached a new milestone today as the 50th fishery received its Marine Stewardship Council certification. The Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) North East Atlantic mackerel fishery has been awarded the MSC certificate following a rigorous 17-month independent assessment.
Gerard van Balsfoort, president of PFA says: “Acquiring the MSC certificate for our mackerel fishery fits perfectly well in our ambition to be competitive and to have a sustainable fisheries operation at the same time".
The PFA North East Atlantic mackerel fishery comprises 27 freezer-trawlers owned by ten companies from six EU-countries. The vessels catch mackerel using single and pair pelagic midwater trawls and land approximately 60,000 metric tonnes of North East Atlantic mackerel. This is approximately 15% of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) set for this fishery and 25% of the European Union's share in this TAC (total alliance catch).
The North East Atlantic mackerel stock is assessed as being within safe biological limits and PFA has successfully introduced management measures to reduce undesired by-catches to low levels. An example is the ban on high grading for all PFA vessels, which has been an internal policy of the PFA since 2000. As part of the certification, however, PFA will take further management action with respect to the monitoring and reduction of undesired catches.
The mackerel fishery is the second PFA fishery to get certified. Its North Sea herring fishery was already awarded MSC certification in 2006. Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC says: “I am delighted to welcome the 50th MSC certified fishery. With the certification of their herring fishery in 2006, PFA has been instrumental in driving the certification of the North Sea pelagic fisheries [2]. I am pleased I can now congratulate them with the certification of their second and the MSC's fiftieth certified fishery".

Press release: Trade sanction measures against Faroe Islands to be in place within a month

(Northern Pelagic Working Group – NPWG)


Trade sanction measures against Faroe Islands to be in place within a month
Following a successful meeting with Commissioner Maria Damanaki this morning the EU pelagic fishing industry 1) is very confident that appropriate trade sanction measures will be imposed against the Faroe Islands within a month from now. These measures are a direct consequence  of the country’s irresponsible behaviour in their Atlantic herring fisheries. Earlier this year they stepped outside the long standing agreed management arrangements and set themselves a quota share more than three times larger than their traditional share (from 31,940t to 105,000t). This follows on last week’s decision taken by the Marine Stewardship Council 2) to suspend the MSC certificate for the Faroese Atlantic herring fishery. 
The industry is also confident that associated species such as mackerel will be included in these sanction measures. In that regard the industry specifically requested that salmon be included in the trade sanctions. The Commissioner  took on board that salmon was indeed an associated species as Faroese herring and mackerel are reduced to fish feed for their aquaculture industry.
Gerard van Balsfoort, chairman of the NPWG, commented: “today we met a very determined Commissioner to follow through on her commitment to stop the irresponsible behaviour by the Faroe Islands which has a direct detrimental effect on the workforce employed by the EU seafood sector”. He added that “we are particularly pleased that the Commissioner has also started the procedure to introduce mackerel sanction measures against Iceland and Faroe Islands”.
The background for the industry’s consistent plea for trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands is the current situation of the management of both the mackerel and Atlantic herring stocks where Iceland has set an autonomous mackerel quota for 2013 of 123,000 ton or 22.7% of the science based 2013 TAC and where Faroe Islands has set an autonomous mackerel quota of 159,000 ton or 29.3% of the 2013 TAC. So, in 2013, both countries will catch 52% of the 2013 TAC, where only in 2006 their joint share in the mackerel catches was just over 5%.
The EU pelagic industry is fully committed to well managed and sustainable fisheries. We will continue to encourage Iceland and Faroe Islands to join us in this objective. 



PFA represents the interests of nine European freezer-trawler companies involved in pelagic fishing activities for human consumption.

Learn more about the PFA policy of sustainable and responsible production.

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