South Georgia icefish wins MSC certification


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 24, 2010

The South Georgia icefish fishery on Monday was certified as sustainable and well-managed under the Marine Stewardship Council program. It’s the world’s second icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari) fishery and 95th fishery overall to earn the distinction.

The fishery is operated by Seaview Logistics Ltd., a Falkland Islands-based company founded in 1990 by Dick and Judith Sawle.

Certified by Moody Marine, the pelagic trawl fishery harvests up to 2,000 metric tons of icefish annually that is primarily exported to eastern European markets. Icefish is a popular delicacy in Russia and parts of the Far East, and the hope is that MSC certification will help introduce the species to European palates.

According to the MSC, the fishery scored particularly high on its maintenance of the ecosystem, with nets designed to avoid contact with the ocean floor and extensive measures in place to limit bycatch of seabirds. As part of the certification, the fishery also committed to further research on the icefish stock over the next four years.

“The process of gaining MSC certification for the South Georgia Icefish fishery … was commenced some six years ago. The fact that it takes time to complete is evidence of the extent to which the management and sustainability of the South Georgia Icefish fishery is scrutinised,” said Seaview owner Alex Reid.

“The South Georgia fishery takes place in one of the most carefully managed and environmentally conscious areas of the world — one of the last paradises for rare birds and pristine nature,” added Reid. “Our fishery recognizes this and one of the driving reasons for our MSC certification has been our willingness to accept this and protect and enhance the environment in which we work.”

Australia’s mackerel icefish attained MSC certification in March 2006 and began the five-year reassessment process in April 2010. There are now four Southern Ocean fisheries that have received MSC certification.

Currently, 228 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program, with certified fisheries producing nearly 4 million metric tons of seafood annually.

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