27 Nov 2009: MSC assessment of Ross Sea toothfish – update

MSC assessment of Ross Sea toothfish – update

On 18th Nov 2009, the Final Report and Determination of the Ross Sea toothfish fishery was released by the independent certifier Moody Marine – this is not a final certification result. This fishery is not certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard – there is now a 15 working day period during which a party may lodge an intent to object. If an objection is lodged, an Independent Adjudicator will consider the objection and determine whether the fishery should be certified against the MSC standard or not.

The preliminary determination by Moody Marine and their assessment team is that the fishery should be certified to the MSC Standard. This determination was reached following the MSC process which requires an assessment by an independent team of fishery experts, a peer review of the draft report and stakeholder input and review.

History of the assessment

The fishery entered assessment on 21 November 2007 and the assessment was carried out by an expert team with experience in marine fisheries policy, marine biology, and  modelling of fisheries and ecological systems. Input from a wide range of stakeholders was used in the assessment as well as information from a total of 65 published and unpublished reports.

In line with FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) requirements all fisheries, including exploratory fisheries in the Antarctic, can voluntarily be assessed against the MSC standard. In the preliminary determination to certify, the certifier has identified areas where performance of the fishery should be improved. Six draft conditions are included in the Final Report which, if certified, the fishery would be required to fulfil. These include:  implementing research plans to improve knowledge of biology and ecology of the toothfish, improving stock assessment through a wider tagging programme and research aimed to establish if there are any vulnerable seafloor areas and to improve knowledge of by-catch distribution.

The Ross Sea toothfish fishery is managed under the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) framework as an ‘Exploratory Fishery’. Setting of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and monitoring of catches, together with setting any technical (conservation) regulations are carried out by CCAMLR.

About the assessment process

Submissions during the assessment process, including stakeholder comment process on the Public Comment Draft Report can be found in Appendix D & F of the Final Report. http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/in-assessment/southern-ocean/ross-sea-toothfish-longline/assessment-downloads