Daring to dream: Why North Sea cod certification is such a source of pride

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 19 Jul 2017

A KEY figure in ensuring North Sea cod is back on the menu - eradicating any misgivings about sustainability - has told of his pride at theannouncement.

As reported, the Marine Stewardship Council has certified the fishery as sustainable, leading to widespread celebration across the industry.

Nigel Edwards is the technical and corporate social responsibility director at Icelandic Seachill, the Grimsby-based fish processor that supplies the UK’s biggest supermarket, Tesco.

He has addressed conferences on the issue, and played an important role in the application to and initial adoption of Marine Stewardship Council certification. He said: “We are proud to have supported the assessment and we are delighted with this hugely deserved accolade for the fishermen, scientists, and fishery managers, who have worked together to secure the long term sustainability of the iconic and delicious North Sea cod. 

“I have personally worked collaboratively from the Nineties onwards with the MSC, retailers like Tesco, fish processors, and most importantly the fishermen and scientists. 

“Our shared vision of a sustainable North Sea has arrived.  North Sea cod now sits alongside the other sustainable MSC cod fisheries in Iceland and the Barents sea that means we can be truly confident in the future of cod.”

Mr Edwards chaired the original commercial group for the MSC, with the company a proud representative of the Food and Drink Federation also, feeding into the policy of the government of the day. The work underlines the level of expertise honed in the cluster.

Reflecting on those early days, he said: “We introduced the MSC to the retailers and got momentum among politicians at the time. In those days we could only dream of sustainable fisheries in the North Sea but look at the tremendous progress that they have made with cod now achieving the same accolade as haddock.

“There is much more good news to follow with British plaice and hake in the pipeline – watch this space!”

North Sea cod stocks peaked at 270,000 tonnes in the Seventies but fell to just  44,000 tonnes in 2006. Since then the industry has worked with the Scottish Government and EU Fisheries Council to agree and implement a Cod Recovery Plan that would nurse the stock back to health.

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