ASOC fights Ross Sea toothfish certification

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) on Monday reiterated its opposition to the proposed Marine Stewardship Council certification of the Ross Sea Antarctic toothfish fishery.

ASOC, representing the majority of its member groups and independent marine scientists, submitted a final appeal to the MSC-appointed independent adjudicator.

ASOC first submitted a formal objection to the certification in December, arguing that the scarcity of information about the stock and a lack of scientific rigor in the assessment, conducted by third-party certifier Moody Marine, make certification of the fishery unjustifiable.

The coalition also argued that certification would undermine ongoing efforts to designate the Ross Sea as a fully-protected marine reserve.

On 15 December, the adjudicator ruled that ASOC raised serious concerns and the appeal could proceed. A final decision on whether the fishery should be certified as sustainable and well-managed is expected soon.

“Moody Marine completely disregarded the comments of peer reviewers and the inputs of NGOs and independent scientists. We hope that the independent adjudicator will take into account the huge uncertainties surrounding this fishery and rule against certification,” said ASOC Executive Director Jim Barnes. “Should Moody Marine’s shoddy assessment be accepted, it will further harm the credibility of the MSC label and accelerate the demise of the highly vulnerable Ross Sea toothfish and the near-pristine Ross Sea ecosystem.”

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