MSC certification for Mexico’s largest fishery

The Marine Stewardship Council on Thursday announced that the Gulf of California sardine fishery, Mexico’s largest fishery by volume, received certification as sustainable and well managed.

It’s also the world’s fourth sardine fishery and Mexico’s second fishery to earn the distinction, with the Baja California red rock lobster fishery being the country’s first, certified in 2004 and re-certified in 2009. 

Cámara Nacional de la Industria Pesquera, Delegación Sonora, served as the fishery’s client, and 90 percent of vessels targeting Gulf of California sardines are included in the certification. The 36-vessel purse-seine fishery landed 256,000 metric tons of sardines in 2009-10, and about 85 percent of the harvest is used for fishmeal, while the remaining 15 percent is canned and sold domestically and internationally.

Scientific Certification Systems served as the fishery’s third-party certifier.

There was, however, an objection lodged during the assessment process by Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI) A.C., a Mexican marine conservation organization, on behalf of numerous NGOs. According to the MSC, the objection was resolved, as the client agreed to allow objectors to help improve the fishery as part of the certification, including a more rigorous design of the monitoring and reporting system and increased coverage of the fishing fleet with on-board observers to record bycatch and interactions with endangered, threatened and protected species.

“A group of Mexican marine conservation NGOs and scientists followed this process closely and reached an agreement in the last phase of this assessment to collaborate, welcoming the invitation of Cámara Nacional de la Industria Pesquera to be more involved with the fishery,” said Dr. Luis Bourillon of Comunidad y Biodiversidad A.C. “This opens a new phase of collaboration to ensure that the largest fishery in Mexico will be sustainable for generations to come.”

There are now 121 MSC-certified fisheries worldwide. 

The Gulf of California sardine fishery is the second fishery to be awarded MSC certification this week — the Tristan da Cunha rock lobster fishery in the South Atlantic earned the distinction on Tuesday.


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