Following a 21-month independent assessment, the South Georgia ice-fish fishery has been certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard.
The fishery scored particularly highly on its maintenance of the ecosystem with nets designed to avoid contact with the ocean floor and extensive measures in place to limit by-catch of seabirds. As part of its certification the fishery has also committed to further research on the fishery and the ice-fish stock over the next four years.
Ice-fish are a true ‘cold fish’ living in the Antarctic waters between -2 and 4 C – water temperatures that would kill a human in minutes. They can survive the cold thanks to natural antifreeze in their blood. Living deep underwater, the fish are almost transparent and have a firm white flesh with a subtle flavour when cooked.
Alex Reid, owner of Seaview Ltd, Falkland Islands, the company that operates the certified fishery says: “Ice-fish from South Georgia is a very special and protected product. We hope that our certification will enable us to sell our product to a market that appreciates not only fine fish of a very distinct and special nature, but also a product which is sustainable and carefully conserved and managed in order to produce the balance between nature and man that we believe is required.
The process of gaining MSC certification for the S Georgia Ice-fish fishery has been a long process which was commenced some 6 years ago.
The fact that it takes time to complete is evidence of the extent to which the management and sustainability of the South Georgia Ice-fish fishery is scrutinised. “We in Polar Ltd, have willingly taken part in many scientific research cruises and have added to the knowledge of this fishery as well as having been world-leaders in mitigation measures to reduce bird strikes to virtually zero”.
The South Georgia fishery takes place in one of the most carefully managed and environmentally conscious areas of the world – one of the last paradises for rare birds and pristine nature. Our fishery recognises this and one of the driving reasons for our MSC certification has been our willingness to accept this and protect and enhance the environment in which we work.”
Toby Middleton, UK Country Manager for the MSC says: “Although ice-fish is relatively un-heard of in Europe at present, it is a well-known delicacy in Russia and parts of the far-East. I hope that the South Georgia fishery’s certification will – as the fishermen hope – help it to introduce this unusual fish to European palates”. (FIS/MP).-