Off the frigid shores of Western Iceland, Captain Halldór Kristinsson pulls in an Atlantic cod and in doing so maintains a fishing tradition dating back to the ninth century when Norsemen first settled this volcanic island in the remote North Atlantic. And while much has changed—his cockpit is an array of high-tech navigational and fish-finding electronics—his 38-foot fishing vessel is actually smaller than an ancient Norse longship.
In fact, there are 25 million people still working in small-scale fisheries in the world and Capt. Kristinsson is the first to be certified by a new artisanal certification body.
Artysanal® is an initiative of SMART, a France-based international association whose acronym comes from “SMall-scale, ARTisanal,” in partnership with the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers. Artysanal® is a label that allows consumers to readily identify the environmental, social and economic benefits of artisanal fisheries worldwide.
SMART is working with ThisFish to ensure that Artysanal®-labelled products are traceable, allowing consumers to see the small-scale producers and fishing methods that harvested their seafood. Eurofins is the official certification body for Artysanal®.
The first Artysanal®-certified product is Atlantic cod from Iceland launched by Elior, Europe’s second largest food service company. Elior began to serve certified cod fillets in business cafeterias across France on April 1 as part of a week-long campaign to promote small-scale, responsible fishing. Click this link to see the story of the traceable cod.
“We developed Artysanal because we felt that many of the major eco-labels ignore the social and economic importance of fishing to small-scale producers who live in rural communities and the developing world,” says Bruno Corréard, one of the co-founders of Artysanal®. “This new small-scale certification takes into account the safety of fish harvesters and whether they are being paid fairly.”
Artysanal® also recognizes that given the uncertainties around fishing and marine ecosystems, it is difficult to guarantee the sustainability of a fishery. Instead, Artysanal® is based on “best practices” to ensure sustainable harvesting practices, safe working conditions and fair wages and income to harvesters and shore workers.
Corréard cites a number of statistics that show why artisanal harvesters are better than large-scale industrial fisheries: they have 50 times more employment per pound of fish, have five times less public subsidies, have 7.5 times less fuel emissions and are four times more fuel efficient than industrial fishing.
“I think most people would be surprised to know that humungous factory trawlers from Russia are catching cod in the North Atlantic that is being processed in Southeast Asia and marketed with an eco-label,” says Corréard. “We are using traceability to be transparent about where Artysanal®-certified products come from. We believe consumers want to know who caught their fish and to feel good that their purchase is supporting real people with families like Halldór Kristinsson.”