Argentine red shrimp fisheries nearing MSC certification

Published on
April 26, 2018

Government officials and nonprofit leaders from Argentina gave a review of their ongoing fisheries improvement project at Seafood Expo Global 2018, and announced that they hope to pursue Marine Stewardship Council certification for Argentine red shrimp by the end of 2019. 

Fished by both near-shore and off-shore vessels, landings of Argentine red shrimp have been steadily increasing over the past several years. The 2017 catch was among the highest on record, with 240,000 metric tons of shrimp being landed. 

Argentina has been steadily improving the fishery through better collection of data on landings, as well as new management, according to Juan Manuel Bosch, Argentina’s director of fishery coordination.

“This is the result, probably, of environmental changes that favor the increase of the stock, but also because historically we have been taking measures to preserve some zones for fishing, sensitive zones that are used by the shrimp to reproduce,” Bosch said. “This new situation has created the need to rethink the management system. That’s why we are discussing at the federal level the launching of a management plan.”

The management plan, Bosch said, is well on its way to being completed. 

“The intention is having a first chapter of this management plan by the start of the next fishing season for the offshore fleet,” he said. The next season will begin next month. 

According to Ernesto Godelman, executive director of CeDePesca, a nonprofit promoting sustainable fisheries in South America, if progess continues on a steady pace, the Argentine red shrimp fishery could be MSC-certified by mid-2019.

“This is the optimistic scenario, but it is possible," he said.

Dirk Belmans, the commercial director of Shore – a sustainable seafood supplier in Europe – said the certification would be a boon to the marketability of Argentine red shrimp. Consumer demand for sustainable seafood, coupled with businesses increasingly catering to that demand, means the MSC certification will be increasingly necessary for the fishery to continue entering markets in some countries, Belmans said

“People like Aldi, people like Herr Food, will demand that your product has the MSC label,” he said. “If you don’t have MSC, you’re not coming in.”

Belmans also emphasized that the sooner Argentine red shrimp gets certified, the better.

“We need to hurry, because [we're] losing ground, he said.

Bosch said he is very optimistic that the fishery will manage to become certifiable thanks to the cooperation of a number of industry, government, and NGO leaders. 

“I think that in this industry, you cannot see that very often, that everybody is working together for the same idea,” he said. “I think it is work we must do all together, it is important to have shrimp for a lot of years.”

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