Greenland halibut – stable quotas and first MSC products
Quota and catch of Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) have been stable over the past years. Only demand has moved slightly up. New this season the first MSC certified Greenland halibut from West Greenland is entering the market. So far, the certification has sparked positive interest from new markets and put new focus on this luxury fish.
Greenland is the main fishing nation for the Greenland halibut followed by Russia, Canada and Iceland together totaling 75% of world catches, which constituted 125.000T in 2015. Other significant fishing nations are Norway, USA, Spain, Germany and Portugal, of which the latter three are fishing in the Arctic on EU quotas.
The first MSC certified fillets
The Greenland halibut (Rheinhardtius hippoglossoides) offshore fishery in Davis Strait and Baffin Bay was the first Greenland halibut fishery to be MSC-certified back in May 2017. Expectations for the MSC certified catch of Greenland halibut from Royal Greenland’s two trawlers ‘Sisimiut” and ‘Tuugaalik’ are high. The two trawlers started fishing in the certified area in late 2017, and will continue to visit the area regularly in their fishing schedule. Royal Greenland’s catch of MSC certified Greenland halibut is limited to abovementioned trawlers, and only two other trawlers are granted quota in the MSC area.
Royal Greenland is subject to institutional dependency of bringing at least 25% of catches ashore for processing in Greenland in order to secure domestic employment. Hence Royal Greenland´s trawlers unload their catch of Greenland halibut to one of the land-based processing facilities in the towns Maniitsoq or Qasigiannguit. At the facilities, it is filleted, de-skinned, trimmed by hand and sorted before it is packaged into interleaved packaging.
First landings for fileting have taken place, and the first container of skinless filets carrying the blue MSC label were sent from Greenland just before the sea-ice around Qasigiannguit closed the seaway end of January 2018. A more continuous flow of goods will follow as soon as the ice breaks.
Royal Greenland´s production forecast of finished MSC fillets for 2018 amounts to 1.000T. This will be a quite small and exclusive proportion of the total Greenland halibut volume of approximately 125.000T
Offshore catch in West Greenland MSC certified
MSC certification is limited to offshore catch in West Greenland. ”It is important to distinguish between inshore and offshore catch”, Product Manager for Greenland halibut at Royal Greenland, Annette Gaarde explains: “Offshore caught Greenland halibut in West Greenland will now carry the blue MSC label, whereas inshore caught Greenland halibut is not certified”