Lobster fishery secure MSC certification

July 22, 2011 12:12

Cape Town's Two Oceans Aquarium today hosted a special celebration as its Shoreline Café, destination for thousands of hungry visitors each year, became the first restaurant in Africa to be certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Chain of Custody standard for seafood traceability. The responsible management of the Tristan da Cunha rock lobster fishery, whose catches are landed in Cape Town, was also recognised today, as representatives of the fishery were formally awarded the MSC certificate for sustainable and well-managed fisheries, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to MSC.

Sustainable seafood on the Waterfront

The success of the Tristan da Cunha fishery and the Shoreline Café in securing certification means that they will now be able to use the blue MSC ecolabel to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable seafood management practices.

Congratulating the lobster fishery and the restaurant on their achievement, Martin Purves, MSC Southern Africa Programme Manager, said: "Today shows that the MSC programme is of relevance to businesses at very different parts of the seafood supply chain, yet united in their wish to put sustainability at the heart of their operations. The Tristan lobster harvest, landed here in Cape Town, supports a tiny and remote South Atlantic community, while the Shoreline Café serves thousands of customers each year at one of South Africa's busiest tourist destinations, the Two Oceans Aquarium. At the MSC, we are extremely proud that our programme has been able to meet the aspirations of these very different organisations to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, and to helping transform the seafood market."

Tristan lobster catchWorld's most remote community chooses MSC route to sustainability

Tristan da Cunha is the world's most remote community. Tristan rock lobster (Jasus tristani) are found almost exclusively in the Tristan da Cunha group of islands (Tristan da Cunha, Gough, Nightingale and Inaccessible) and Islanders rely upon the fishery as the main source of revenue for the resident population of just 264 people. The annual catch is around 440 tonnes and is sold mainly to markets in the United States and Japan, destined for high-end restaurants and special wedding bento boxes.

Cape Town fishing company, Ovenstone Agencies (PTY) Ltd, is the sole concession holder for the fishery, and certification client. Fishing at the three outer islands of Gough, Inaccessible and Nightingale, is conducted by the Ovenstone-owned freezer factory longline vessel, the M V Edinburgh, and her four dories, which fish the inshore grounds. Fishing at Tristan is conducted by Islanders employed by Ovenstone, using nine dories owned by the company.

The fishery is managed by the Tristan da Cunha Fisheries Department, which sets an annual catch quota for each individual island, taking into account scientific advice from the University of Cape Town. The unique relationship between the company and the government also ensures the employment of Islanders in the processing factory on Tristan da Cunha, as well as provision of shipping for passengers and freight to and from Cape Town. The relationship further benefits the island through joint ventures that include education and waste management projects.

The fishery entered formal assessment in January 2010, assisted by funding from the Sustainable Fisheries Fund, and has been examined against the three principles of the MSC standard for sustainable fisheries. Passing the assessment demonstrates that the fishery is managed in a way that does not lead to overfishing; that it maintains the health and productivity of the wider marine ecosystem; and that it has an effective management system in place. Receiving the certificate, Dr Andrew James, Managing Director, Ovenstone Agencies, said: "We're delighted that our careful stewardship of this natural resource has been recognised by certification to the demanding MSC standard."

James Glass, Director of Fisheries, Tristan da Cunha, added: "The careful management of the lobster fishery is the foundation of the continued economic independence of the Tristan community. MSC certification will, we hope, help us keep and find new markets. The globally-recognised MSC ecolabel will help customers differentiate our lobsters from others, and so promote sustainable choices in the seafood market."

Shoreline CafeShoreline Café pioneers Chain of Custody certification in Africa

Shoreline Café has a longstanding commitment to sourcing sustainable seafood. With MSC certification, it joins the ranks of world-renowned restaurants such as Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, entitled to use the MSC ecolabel on menus and packaging to demonstrate that the products served are fully traceable to MSC certified fisheries.

Juan de Allende, Shoreline Cafe's Executive Chef said, "The auditors looked at the traceability of our ordering system, checking invoices to ensure that they could trace the seafood right back to the fishery. This gives our customers the assurance that the seafood we serve is indeed from an MSC-certified fishery."

Dr Patrick Garratt, Managing Director of the Two Oceans Aquarium, added:"As an aquarium we have a special responsibility to help raise awareness of the state of the world's fish stocks, and what choices people can make to help ensure the health of the world's oceans. Our own credibility depends, as well, upon the sustainability of our sourcing policies and the MSC ecolabel helps make our commitment visible to our visitors".

"Next year, we will be hosting the eighth International Aquarium Congress, and we're looking forward to using this and other opportunities to increase public awareness of the MSC ecolabel and how individuals can, by choosing sustainable seafood, make their own contribution to the future of the marine world."

Further information

For for more information or images please contact Martin Purves or Michael Marriott from the MSC South Africa Office.

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