The Macquarie Island toothfish fishery, operated by Austral Fisheries and Australian Longline, has entered full assessment for MSC certification.
This is the Australian operators’ third fishery to undergo MSC assessment with their HIMI mackerel icefish fishery successfully gaining MSC certification in 2006, and their HIMI toothfish fishery currently undergoing full assessment.
Independent certification body Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), will evaluate the Southern Ocean fishery against the MSC environmental standard for well-managed and sustainable fisheries.
The standard examines the sustainability of the fish stock, the environmental impact of the fishing activities and the management and governance systems that are in place.
The fishery comprises up to three vessels responsible for a total annual catch of more than 500 metric tonnes of toothfish using long-line and trawl methods. This catch is sold predominantly to the US, Japanese and Chinese markets.
Collaborative working enhances sustainability of Australian fisheries:
Austral Fisheries CEO, David Carter says: “Seeking MSC certification for the Macquarie Island toothfish fishery is part of our ongoing commitment to sustainable fishing practices, and our broader support for the MSC program as the world’s pre-eminent, scientifically rigorous and independent certification for wild caught fisheries.
Gaining MSC certification will recognise the collaborative efforts of industry, scientists, fishermen, conservation groups and policy makers to ensure sustainable management practices are in place for this fishery.
This collaborative working has led to strict management measures being placed on the fishery limiting the number of vessels allowed to operate, setting target and bycatch limits and imposing seasonal closures and stringent seabird mitigation requirements. They have also led to the establishment of one of the world’s largest Marine Protected Areas to further protect biodiversity in the area.”
Australian Longline’s CEO, Les Scott, says: “Australian Longline and Austral Fisheries have also been working together to focus on longlining methods and have agreed not to use trawl fishing while developing improved understandings of the toothfish stocks and their distribution on the Macquarie Ridge.
This joint operation has shown clear benefits, including improved stock assessment and biological understanding of toothfish by scientists at CSIRO and the Australian Antarctic Division, while at the same time avoiding any interactions with seabirds or other Macquarie Island wildlife. We are confident that these measures will bode well for the upcoming MSC assessment.”
MSC welcomes leadership from Australian fisheries:
Patrick Caleo, MSC Manager ANZ, says: “Austral Fisheries and Australian Longline should be congratulated for their ongoing commitment to sustainable fishing practices, and their efforts to safeguard seafood stocks for future generations.
The MSC welcomes the fishery into the assessment process. If successful in gaining certification, they will be able to use the MSC ecolabel on their products, and will be well placed to help meet the ever-growing demand for sustainably sourced seafood products worldwide.
Austral Fisheries and Australian Longline have certainly taken a leadership position in Australia regarding the issue of seafood sustainability, and in seeking independent certification of their fisheries. I hope that their continuing support of the MSC program will encourage other Australian fisheries interested in demonstrating their sustainability to come forward to seek MSC certification.”