Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group

Representing all sectors of Scotland’s pelagic industry

Overseeing the sustainable certification of North Sea herring
and NE Atlantic mackerel to the Marine Stewardship Council
(MSC) standard

The Scottish Pelagic

Sustainability Group

The Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG) was established in 2006 and represents all sectors of Scotland’s pelagic industry, including catching, processing and marketing. SPSG was established to oversee the certification of its main fisheries to the Marine Stewardship Council eco-label standard and is currently driving forward a number of other sustainability initiatives. The over-riding aim of SPSG is to ensure that the Scottish pelagic industry is truly sustainable.

Since its inception, 98% of the group’s stocks have been certified as sustainable and well managed by the MSC.  The North Sea herring fishery was the first fishery to be certified in 2008. This was closely followed by the certification of the NE Atlantic mackerel fishery in 2009.  Also now part of the MSC programme are West of Scotland herring, Atlanto Scandian herring and blue whiting.

As well as the MSC programme, SPSG is involved in a range of scientific initiatives to enhance our understanding of pelagic stocks and to ensure informed decisions are made with their management. To aid this process, we have appointed a Chief Scientific Officer to co-ordinate a range marine science projects. As well as catch data, pelagic vessels are also currently being used as the platform to gather an array of information by other means, including acoustic surveys and egg surveys.

Oily fish such as mackerel and herring are an incredibly important sustainable and nutritious food resource and SPSG is keen to highlight to consumers the responsible fishing methods used in their harvesting. The pelagic sector supports many jobs and is a significant contributor to the Scottish economy.

SPSG is funded by the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association Ltd, Scottish Pelagic Fish Processors Association Ltd, Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation Ltd, Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation Ltd, Interfish Fish Producers’ Organisation Ltd, Klondyke Fish Producers’ Organisation Ltd and Lunar Fish Producers’ Organisation Ltd.


Start of the year Scottish mackerel fishery winds-up

MSC Development Programme

All five of the SPSG’s main fisheries are part of the MSC Programme, enabling consumers to make informed choices when purchasing seafood.

Sustainability Policy

SPSG is committed to a sustainable future for our pelagic fisheries. Find out more how we are working towards these goals.

Science Initiatives

Working with a range of stakeholders, SPSG is spearheading scientific research to enhance our knowledge of stocks.

MSC Certification

The MSC’s certification and ecolabelling program enables everybody to play a part in securing a healthy future for our oceans. Using our fisheries certification and seafood labelling program, the MSC works with partners to promote sustainable fishing and transform markets. The MSC is an international non-profit organisation established to address the problem of unsustainable fishing, and safeguard seafood supplies for the future.

Visit the MSC website here.

Our Fishing Fleet

There are 24 vessels in membership of the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group based mainly in the Shetland Isles and the north-east Scottish ports of Peterhead and Fraserburgh.

  • Many of the boats are family owned.
  • They work a clean, discard-free fishery.
  • The harvest is stored in refrigerated seawater tanks to ensure optimum quality.
  • Our skippers are committed to sustainable catching.
  • The fleet supports a large onshore processing sector.


Poppy Seed Herring
Mackerel Salad

Mackerel Salad

Mackerel Pâté on Krisprolls
Fresh Mackerel on Toast

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