South African Toothfish improves to ‘Good Alternative’

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program this week released an update to their rating of South Africa’s Prince Edward and Marion Islands Patagonian Toothfish fishery from ‘Avoid’ to ‘Good Alternative’.  The fishery has improved on Criterions 1 (Impacts on target species), 3 (Management Effectiveness) and 4 (Habitat and Ecosystem), while has received a lower score for Criterion 2 (Impacts on other species).  This improved the overall rating of the fishery according to the Seafood Watch Standards for Fisheries to ‘Good Alternative’.

This is a positive sign for a fishery that was impacted heavily in the late 1990s and early 2000s by IUU fishing, and shows the effectiveness of collaboration between industry, science and management agencies, and NGOs. Richard Ball, Chairman of both COLTO and the South African Patagonian Toothfish Industry Association said “The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program must be applauded for regularly reviewing fisheries against their Standard. This encourages and supports responsible fisheries management and operators to further their efforts. Our common objective is to have sustainable resources supporting best practice in management, fishing, and contribution to understanding the environment while eliminating IUU activities.”

The Republic of South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone around Prince Edward and Marion Islands is managed and regulated by the Government Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and this change in rating by the Seafood Watch program brings the total portion of global Toothfish catch that is either ‘Recommended’ (MSC certified) or rated as a ‘Good Alternative’ by the program to 57%.