Chilean hake fishery enters MSC full assessment process

June 11, 2010 09:01

Sociedad Nacional de Pesca has entered its Chilean Hake (Merluccius gayi gayi) trawl fishery into the independent, third-party assessment under the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) certification program.  The assessment will evaluate the fishery against the Marine Stewardship Council principles and criteria for sustainable fishing and, if successful, products sold through Sociedad Nacional de Pesca will be eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel recognizing products from well-managed and sustainable sources, reports with reference to MSC.
About the Sociedad Nacional de Pesca fishery

The fishery under assessment is Chilean Hake (Merluccius gayi gayi), using demersal trawl gear in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Chile (EEZ), FAO area 87, management areas IV to X.  Demersal trawling is generally defined as towing the trawl just above the benthic zone. For the pre-assessment and continuing into full assessment, a national committee was organized with representatives from industry, the government (Subpesca, Sernapesca) and research institutions with expertise in fisheries, including: Instituto de Fomento Pesquero, IFOP  (Fisheries Development Institute); Instituto de Investigacion Pesquera, INPESCA  (Fisheries Research Institute); Universidad de Concepción, UDEC (University of Concepción); and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, PUCV (Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso).

 Companies involved in this process have fifteen vessels in operation. In 2010, the total annual catch quota of hake for this fishery unit is 55,000 tons. The fishing season extends all year, except for a biological closure between mid-August and mid-September.  The most significant markets relate to the European Union, United States and South America. It highlights the frozen fillet sales to these markets.
What the fishery says

Mr. Héctor Bacigalupo, Sonapesca Manager, says:  "We anticipate that MSC certification will bring a number of benefits to the companies involved in the industrial fishery for hake by demonstrating to the Chilean public and other stakeholders that we are managing what is a national resource responsibly, with catch and effort regulated to ensure not only conservation of the species, but also other elements of the ecosystem that are impacted by our fishing activities. Our priority as the client group of companies is to ensure effective management that allows sustainable fishing activities to underpin our long term business model while providing all-important employment and income to the coastal economy.

"We executives working for the client group view MSC certification as a highly demanding test that measures how well we are doing while identifying aspects that need to be improved. We look forward to an MSC certification that confirms the positive achievements of all the hard work completed over recent years to change fishery practices. For instance: we have established annual fishing quotas; introduced annual closed areas to protect spawning stock; fishing vessels are obliged to use GPS; scientific observers are present during fishing operations; landings are verified; fishing gear has been modified to improve selectivity and allow juveniles to escape; and there is effective self-regulation by fishing companies. All with the aim of ensuring a sustainable fishery that will bring benefits to future generations."
What the MSC says

Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas regional director, says: "This announcement by Sociedad Nacional de Pesca to enter full assessment against the MSC standard for their Chilean Hake trawl fishery demonstrates their commitment to sustaining the fishery and protecting the ecosystem. Around the world, seafood buyers and consumers want assurances that fisheries are being protected.  If certified, this will have a positive impact in the marketplace. We welcome Sociedad Nacional de Pesca into the program."

About the certifier

The assessment will be carried out by independent certifier Moody Marine Limited.  Anyone who would like to bring information about the fishery to the attention of the certifier can be involved in the assessment process. If you would like to be involved, please contact Ian Scott at  It is anticipated that the assessment will be completed within 12-18 months.

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