Chilean sea bass now a ‘best choice’
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program has upgraded more than half of all Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass) fisheries from “avoid” to “best choice” or “good alternative.”
Toothfish from Heard and McDonald Islands, the Falkland Islands and Macquarie Island is now a “best choice,” while fish from Ross Sea Antarctic, South Georgia and Kerguelen are “good alternatives,” together representing more than 60 percent of the global toothfish catch. Fish from Crozet Islands, Prince Edward Islands of South Africa and Marion Islands and Chile remain on the “avoid” list.
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has welcomed the news.
“AFMA has very strict regulations in place to ensure the fishery is sustainable. The Australian industry don’t just meet these conditions, they go above and beyond to absolutely make sure their fishing has a minimal impact on the environment,” said James Findlay, AFMA CEO.
A major collaborative action to eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) toothfish fishing, to devise new methods to reduce seabird bycatch, and to ensure sustainable management of toothfish, was started 15 years ago by industry, conservation groups, and national governments.
According to the Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators (COLTO), there has been a 95 percent decline in IUU catches of Patagonian toothfish since then. There are remnants of IUU fishing for Antarctic toothfish in high seas areas of the Indian Ocean, outside national jurisdictional controls, which are still being addressed.
The positive outcomes from the Monterey Bay Aquarium confirm separate independent reviews of toothfish fisheries, including by national governments, the 25 member-nation resource conservation agency CCAMLR and by the Marine Stewardship Council.
“Collaboration between industry and conservation, working with scientists and managers to address problems, has produced extraordinary results,” said Martin Exel, COLTO chair. “It’s one of the most exciting outcomes in global fisheries — a model of how well fisheries management actions can work.”