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16.12.2010

Certification of Iceland’s responsible fisheries

Yesterday saw a remarkable milestone in Icelandic fisheries reached as it was announced that cod fisheries in Icelandic waters had passed through an international certification process, confirming the fishery as being responsibly managed, in accordance with the strictest requirements on responsible management, sustainable exploitation and good practice regarding marine resources.

The announcement was made at a press conference attended by interested parties and the media, held at the Maritime Museum in Reykjavík. Peter Marshall of the Irish independent certification body Global Trust Certification presented the certificate that was accepted by Kara Vídisdóttir and Lárus Vídisson, alongside their grandfather Trausti Egilsson, who skippers HB Grandi’s factory trawler Örfirisey RE.

The certification was welcomed in a speech by Eggert Benedikt Gudmundsson, HB Grandi’s CEO and the chairman of the fisheries marketing committee at Promote Iceland which is now working on promoting the Iceland Responsible Fisheries programme. He said that it is highly fitting for the younger generation to accept the certification, as this is an issue that effects everyone in Iceland, not just interested parties in the fishing industry itself.

The certification is the culmination of many years of work aimed at obtaining an independent, international award that demonstrates that Icelandic fisheries are conducted in a fully sustainable, responsible manner.

The Icelandic Fisheries Association, which has all of the main interested parties in Icelandic fisheries among its membership, was at the forefront of the project, which is based on internationally accepted standards, including the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and FAO Guidelines for Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products. The ISO-accredited Global Trust Certification was employed to carry out a thorough audit of Icelandic cod fisheries, including examining policy and its implementation, to confirm that the cod fishery conforms to all the norms of international requirements. Kristján Thórarinsson headed the Fisheries Association team.

CEO Peter Marshall of Global Trust Certification commented that: “This independent FAO-ISO certification for the Icelandic cod fishery against the FAO requirements clearly demonstrates that this fishery is managed in a responsible manner according to internationally recognised reference points. I would like to congratulate Iceland’s fishery managers and stakeholders alike. Iceland has forged a path in certification that others, such as Alaska and Canada, are following.”

The certification is vital for Iceland’s fishing industry, which now has confirmation that it meets all of the market’s requirements for responsible exploitation of renewable resources. The aim of the Iceland Responsible Fisheries programme is to strengthen the industry from within while also promoting Icelandic seafood overseas. An agreement has been reached with Promote Iceland to market and promote the initiative.

Fisheries Minister Jón Bjarnason commented in his speech:

“This milestone is of paramount importance for Iceland and demonstrates that our responsible policies are achieving their aims. We can see that Icelandic seafood has an even more direct route to important markets and that revenues from seafood exports will remain a central pillar of our economic life.”

Iceland’s seafood industry brought ISK209 billion into the nation’s economy in 2009 and the values of seafood exports have risen alongside lower catch levels this year as companies in this industry sector have innovated, developed new products, and improved yields and efficiency. The value of cod products accounts for approximately 36% of the total value of seafood exports.

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