Chinese clam fishery’s landmark certificationThe Manila Clam FIP started in 2016 and has culminated in MSC certification for this coastal fishery. Photo: FAO

The Yalu Estuary Manila clam fishery in the China Yellow Sea has become the first of its kind in China to achieve MSC certification.

The fishery’s successful certification follows a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) in collaboration with seafood producer Dandong Taihong Foodstuff, Nichirei Fresh Inc, a major supplier of clams to the Japanese market, and WWF Japan and China.

The Manila Clam FIP started in November 2016, with the fishery entering full MSC assessment just over three years later in January 2020. The MSC states that this certification demonstrates the value of FIPs in helping fisheries to make meaningful improvements in their sustainability in order to achieve MSC certification.

“Obtaining the MSC certification is the best way that we can demonstrate our commitment towards sustainability. This is a tremendous achievement for Taihong and for all people who participated in this program. This certification will definitely help us to improve our management and strengthen the market linkage with both international and local market,” said Xing Lianhong, chairman of Dandong Taihong Foodstuff.

Manila clam (Ruditapes philippinarum) is one of the major species in the Yalu River Estuary, Dandong, Liaoning Province, Northeast of China. The fishery is located in the Yellow Sea Ecoregion (YES), and last year the total clam harvest for China was over 4 million tonnes. Dandong is an important production area with a key role to play in developing a market for sustainable seafood.

Manila clams can be sold with the blue MSC label, creating new market opportunities and responding to growing international demand for sustainable seafood products.

“The sustainable practices of the Manila clam fishery in these coastal mudflats will be a flagship for other fisheries in the area. They are leading the way in conserving the ecosystem and demonstrating how a sustainable fishery program can generate multiple benefits, balancing ecological conservation and economic return,” said Dr. Cui He, President of China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA).

The assessment to the MSC Fisheries Standard was conducted by independent auditors and marine scientists from SCS Global Services. The process examined the fishery’s impact on the marine ecosystem as well as the effectiveness of its management in ensuring that the environment is protected for the future. SCS Global Services will continue to audit the fishery every year to ensure that it maintains the high levels of sustainability required for MSC certification, with a full reassessment due after five years.

“This coastal fishery in Yellow Sea sustains the livelihoods of many local communities,” commented Patrick Caleo, Regional Director of MSC Asia Pacific.

“Within this region of China, Manila clam fishing and processing is one of the most important industries supplying marine products to China and neighbouring countries. I’m delighted that such an iconic fishery is the first clam fishery in China to achieve MSC certification. We look forward to continued partnership with Taihong and many others and promoting this important accomplishment.”

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