1 Oct 2009: French toothfish fisheries from Reunion Island embark on the MSC journey

French toothfish fishers, under the auspices of the Reunion Freezer Longliner Shipowners Association (SARPC for its French acronym) have applied for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment to demonstrate the sustainability of their fishing practices. The SARPC was formed by six fishing companies which have authorization and licenses to capture toothfish in the French Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the Kerguelen plateau and the area around Crozet Island. Each of these areas has their own annual quota. The fishing companies operate seven long line vessels from the French Réunion Island. This is the third French fishery to enter the MSC programme. 

Yannick Lauri, President of the SARPC explains the group’s decision to apply for MSC assessment: “We’ve decided to seek MSC certification in the hope of earning recognition for our long-standing commitments to sustainable fishing. We already adhere to very strict controls and we take part in a number of scientific and explorative surveys. We hope that the MSC ecolabel, the most widely recognized ecolabel for sustainable fishing, will help us demonstrate our sustainable practices.”

The MSC’s standard for sustainable and well managed fisheries

The fishery will be assessed against the three core principles of the MSC’s standard for sustainable and well managed fisheries:  the sustainability of the fish stock, its impact on the environment and the management systems in place. The assessment will be carried out by an independent certifier, MacAlister Elliott and Partners Ltd.

What the MSC says

Martin Purves, MSC Southern Africa Programme Manager, commented: “This is a great development for fisheries in the Southern hemisphere, and I am delighted that the toothfish fishery is now in full MSC assessment. This fishery represents a significant part of the total toothfish catches by volume. I hope this is the start of a successful assessment and that it will provide the French toothfish fishery with an opportunity to demonstrate their sustainable fishing practices to the world through MSC certification. On behalf of the MSC, I wish them all the best on this journey. “

Edouard Le Bart, Commercial Manager for the MSC in France, added: “We are delighted that the SARPC has entered full assessment for the toothfish fishery.  I wish them every success in their endeavour  and I hope it will enable them to demonstrate the efforts they’ve already made to ensure the sustainability of the resource and the conservation of the environment.”

Location of the fishery

The French EEZs where Patagonian toothfish is fished, are located in the southern Indian Ocean within the cold waters of the Antarctic Convergence. The fishery takes place in a French overseas territory (Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises, abbreviated TAAF) and falls under the jurisdiction of 3 different French ministries: the Ministry of Overseas Territories, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The surface area of the French Subantarctic EEZ is three times bigger than the French mainland. 

About The Reunion Longliner Freezer Shipowners Council

The Reunion Longliner Freezer Shipowners Council (SARPC for its French acronym) was set up in 2002. The main purpose of the SARPC is to promote and work on common issues concerning this type of fishery as well as the protection of the resource and the conservation of the environment.

SARPC is formed of 6 fishing companies which have authorisation and licenses to fish toothfish in the French EEZ near the Kerguelen and Crozet islands. 
These six fishing companies operate seven long liners:
•    Armas pêche => Vessel : Mascareignes III
•    Armements Réunionnais => Vessel : Ile Bourbon
•    Cap Bourbon => Vessel : Cap Horn 1
•    Comata => Vessel : Ile de la Réunion
•    Pêche-Avenir => Vessel : Antarctic 1
•    Sapmer => Vessels : Albius  et Croix du Sud

About The Patagonian toothfish

The Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) is a carnivorous species which can measure more than two meters and can weigh over 100 kg. Rich in omega 3 and with a succulent flesh with a unique taste, it is highly appreciated in American and Asian restaurants and is becoming increasingly popular in Europe.