Press Releases

13th August 2010

Cornwall packs in another MSC certificate with sustainable sardines

Cornwall’s iconic sardine fishery has passed its Marine Stewardship Council assessment and been certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery. The fishery – which recently gained European geographic designation as ‘Cornish Sardines’ can now add the MSC ecolabel to its products.

The Cornish sardine fishery first started a trial MSC assessment in 2008, in a pilot programme to develop a way for data deficient fisheries – often found in the developing world – to be able to achieve MSC certification . After performing well in the ‘Risk-Based framework’ assessment, Cornish sardines went on to pass the regular MSC assessment.

The Cornish sardine fleet currently consists of 6 vessels using ring nets and a further 10 vessels catching sardines with drift nets. Boats sail mainly from Newlyn and Mevagissey and stay in inshore waters – within six miles of land. The sardines they catch are significantly larger than the minimum size allowed and are proving popular with restaurants and retailers.

Nick Howell, Chairman of the Cornish Sardine Management Association says: “We are delighted that this traditional Cornish fishery has been certified by the MSC and of course that would not have been possible without the support of Marks & Spencer and Seafish who have both helped us with funding. “

Toby Middleton, UK Country Manager for the MSC says: “Cornish sardine is an iconic fishery and this certification represents a great deal of hard work and solid management by the Cornish Sardine Management Association. In the process of getting certified, the CSMA fishermen have also helped to pilot a process that will help fellow fishermen and women in the developing world to start to get their fisheries certified, bringing management and economic benefits that would, previously, have been unavailable to them.

CSMA members can feel justifiably proud of this certification and the work they have done to achieve it. I am confident that they will soon start to reap their rewards with interest in the fishery growing in national and international quarters.”
Jon Harman, Development Director for Seafish says: “Seafish helped fund the development of a tool to help assess the stock status of the data-deficient Cornish sardine fishery. We recognised the need to trial a tool, to an international standard, for fisheries facing challenges in the amount of data available. This was an important stepping stone to MSC certification and we are pleased that Cornish sardines have now been approved to MSC standard after being reviewed by this new process.”



Notes to editors

For further information, please contact James Simpson, Marine Stewardship Council on 0207 811 3315 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
For radio interviews and comment, please contact Nick Howell on 01736 33 2112

About the Cornish Sardine Management Association

The Cornish Sardine Management Association is a group of Cornish fishermen and processors who came together in 2004 to agree common standards between themselves for catching, processing and marketing Cornish Sardines.

The aims of the Association are:

  • to maintain the quality of the catch
  • instil methods to protect the stocks
  • manage and record the catches, and,
  • to develop the marketing of the product.

About the MSC

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organisation set up to promote solutions to the problem of overfishing. The MSC runs the only certification and ecolabelling programme for wild-capture fisheries consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation guidelines for fisheries certification.  The FAO ‘Guidelines for the Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries’ require that credible fishery certification and eco-labelling schemes include:


  • Objective, third-party fishery assessment utilising scientific evidence;
  • Transparent processes with built-in stakeholder consultation and objection procedures;
  • Standards based on the sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices.

The MSC has offices in London, Seattle, Tokyo, Sydney, the Hague, Edinburgh, Berlin, Cape Town and Paris.

In total, over 200 fisheries are engaged in the MSC programme with 93 certified and around 119 under full assessment.  Another 40 to 50 fisheries are in confidential pre-assessment.  Together, fisheries already certified or in full assessment record annual catches of close to seven million metric tonnes of seafood, representing over 12 per cent of global capture production for direct human consumption. The fisheries already certified catch close to four million metric tonnes of seafood annually – over seven per cent of the total wild capture for direct human consumption.  Worldwide, more than 5,000 seafood products, which can be traced back to the certified sustainable fisheries, bear the blue MSC ecolabel.