MSC: SA government steps up for hake fishery
By SeafoodSource staff
16 July, 2012
With the confirmation that South Africa’s hake trawl fishery has secured its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, the local government is reconfirming its support for the accreditation.
The inshore sector, which targets predominantly shallow water hake (Merluccius capensis) on South Africa’s south coast, and the offshore sector, which targets mostly deep water hake (M. paradoxus), on fishing grounds extending from the Namibian border southwards along the Agulhas fringe, was the first hake fishery in the world to be certified against the MSC’s Environmental Standard for Sustainable Fishing. The fishery was originally certified in 2004 and recertified for an additional five-year period in 2010.
Trawled hake sold to overseas markets accounted for around USD 231 million in annual revenue in 2010, and the industry employs approximately 6,500 people.
The MSC said in a press release on Friday that steady progress has been made against the existing conditions of certification. The surveillance report notes that the most recent stock assessment shows an improvement in levels above the recovery objectives of the operational management procedure. As well as continued implementation of a precautionary approach to the management of hake stocks, good progress can also be seen in understanding the seabed impacts of the fishery. Progress was also noted in addressing by-catch issues in the inshore fishery, including establishing an industry-science forum in which by-catch mitigation plans are being developed.
Though satisfied that the fishery has the requisite processes in place to ensure long-term sustainability the assessment team raised questions over the adequacy of current observer coverage, indicating that the delivery of research plans will depend on appropriate allocation of staff and finances. In the absence of adequate resources, there should be a focused prioritization of those tasks that are essential to the operation of a sustainable fishery. Further concerns about the lapse of the government’s Offshore Resource Observer Program led the reviewers to generate new conditions that will encourage the reinstatement of this program. Progress against these and earlier conditions will be reviewed at the third surveillance audit in March 2013, according to the MSC.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) recently stated that it would like to reassure the fishing industry as a whole — owners and workers alike — that it is committed to reinstating the required scientific observer program as well as putting the marine research vessels back at sea to ensure continued certification of the fishery against the MSC standard.
“DAFF has noted the audit report compiled by the assessment team and wishes to offer its unwavering support to the Industry as a whole. We will work closely with the Industry to ensure that all the new conditions are met. We are committed to meeting all the necessary requirements to ensure that the best value for money is obtained from our fish stocks and that access to all markets, old and new, is guaranteed,” said department spokesperson Selby Bokaba. “Having the fishery independently certified to the MSC global standard does not only help the department to improve its own systems of managing, particularly the hake trawl fishery, but it also ensures that it meets the highest standards of sustainable management of the stock and add value to it. The relationship between DAFF and the MSC is solid and strong.”
16 July, 2012