ILVO: certifying fish which are not covered by a label

To continue our drive for sustainability and responsibility, we wanted to certify the Dover sole that we sell. However, none of our partner fisheries were covered by the MSC label for the sole they fished in the North Sea. So our buyer called on the expertise of the ILVO to guarantee that, through their certification, you were consuming a sustainable product from a responsible fishery.

Optimising current practices

First of all, what exactly is the ILVO? It is an independent scientific institute, with which we started working in 2012 to establish a method for assessing the sustainability of fish. This evaluation is based on three criteria: the state of the population being fished, the good management of the fishery and its impact on the ecosystem. The ILVO then assigns a sustainability score to each fish species.

Quality-controlling fish
The ILVO carries out multidisciplinary, innovative and independent research from an economic, ecological and societal perspective.

To get our Dover sole ILVO certified, our buyer first had to contact the institute to ask its experts whether this fish had already been evaluated by them or not. In fact, this Dutch sole from twin rig trawlers had already been evaluated.

However, it had been given a red light: the fishing technique wasn’t selective enough and its impact on the ecosystem was too great. So the supplier had to make its fishing techniques more sustainable. There were several possible solutions, such as using larger net meshes and opting for a different fishing technique.

Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en Voedingsonderzoek

Abiding by commitments

Our supplier put several measures in place to control the bycatch. On the one hand, they used a larger dimension mesh than the classic mesh. On the other, their trawlers were equipped with a second net, with an even larger mesh, which preceded the first, to allow the non-targeted fish to escape.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough for the ILVO and they were unable to certify these Dover sole. Despite our supplier’s efforts, this product has not got the green light from the ILVO and we can’t make it part of our fresh and frozen fish range. In this case, as in others, we adhere strictly to our commitments for all the products we offer.

Fresh and frozen fish
Philippe Toussaint, manager sustainable sourcing at Colruyt Group explains, “The ILVO continues to monitor fish, which are unavailable under the MSC label. In this way, we can guarantee the sustainability of all our wild fish.”

With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Responsible consumption & production Life below water