MSC reinstates sardine fishery certification

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has reinstated certification for the Portuguese sardine fishery, which had been suspended since January 2012.

The MSC had suspended the fishery’s certification after an assessment by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea which found that the sardine stock in the area had fallen below the acceptable sustainable level, and there was “an absence of appropriate harvest controls.”

According to the MSC, a new study by Intertek Moody Marine, an independent company often contracted by MSC to conduct assessments, found that “the reasons for the suspension have been successfully addressed.”

According to the MSC, the reinstatement came as a result of the following agreements:

•    The Portuguese Secretary of State for the Sea approved several orders imposing a limit on the landing of sardines and a fishing ban for each production region.

•    A corrective action plan, “Sardine Fisheries Management Plan 2012-2015,” was presented to the independent auditor and approved in April. This action plan aimed to promote the recovery of the sardine stock and to establish harvesting rules to be adopted over 2012-2015.

•    Working together with the Spanish government for the adoption of the harvest control rules. Spain has formally adopted the plan for the management of the fishery in 2013 and Portugal and Spain have jointly submitted this management plan and the harvest control rules to ICES.

Moody Marine reported evidence of the recovery of stock, a new harvest strategy, and other changes.

“The reinstatement of the certificate today is testament to the commitment of all parties to improve the management of the fishery, and tackle the underlying causes of suspension last year,” said Nicolas Guidoux. “Together, the fishery and its partners on the Sardine Commission have helped secure the future of this vital marine resource and so contribute to the environmental and economic health of the region.”

A fourth surveillance audit is scheduled for January 2014, and the fishery will retain its certification if all goes well with that audit.


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