MSC certification to help boost fillet and mince production in Western Bering Sea
The Pollock Catchers Association (PCA) has proved that the pollock trawl fishery in the Western Bering Sea Zone meets the requirements of the international environmental standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and on July 6, 2021, the final certification decision on the recognition of the Russian pollock fishery in the Bering Sea as stable and well-managed was published on the MSC website, reports Megafishnet.com.
According to PCA, approach to forecasting the stock of Navarino pollock and the system of regulation and control of fishing were rated above 90%, which corresponds to the best world fisheries.
Thanks to a lot of preparatory work, the certification process for one of the most complex fisheries took only 10 months. Already this season, more than 300 thousand metric tons of pollock can potentially be considered eco-certified. This opens up great prospects for increasing the production of pollock fillet and mince.
"The West Bering Sea zone is the second most important fishing area of the Russian Far Eastern Fisheries. In 2021, the total allowable catch of pollock in this area is set at 415,000 tons, of which 73% is accounted for by PCA members, " said PCA President Alexey Buglak, noting that the certification will contribute to solving the task of increasing the output of deep processed products.
According to Alexey Buglak, obtaining a certificate almost at the beginning of the season is extremely important, especially because of the lockdown in China and the actual stop of frozen pollock supply to China. "Enterprises will be able to focus on the production of sea-frozen pollock fillets and mince, which are in high demand on the Russian and foreign markets," he said.
The successful certification was preceded by serious preparatory work of the Association. In accordance with the training program adopted in 2019, PCA implemented a set of research projects, conducted marine studies to assess the impact of trawling on marine mammals and birds. An important element was the increase in the number of scientific observers who monitor the fishery and collect bio-statistical information on pollock catches and by-catch of non-target species.
"By the end of 2020, we have increased the coverage of the fishery to 10% and confirmed by independent studies that trawl fishing does not have a negative impact on seabirds and mammals of the Bering Sea," Alexey Buglak said, stressing that this work will continue after certification. The PCA has already developed a plan for further improvement of the fishery, within the framework of which a series of studies will be conducted on the impact of fishing on birds. In addition, the Association, together with TINRO and other institutes, will develop a program of scientific observers, as well as invest in projects to modernize the midwater trawl to increase the selectivity of fishing.
It should be noted that the PCA has been systematically working for many years to improve the sustainability of the fishery and expand the certification of Russian pollock. In 2018, the pollock fishery in the Sea of Okhotsk was successfully re-certified.
In March 2021, a certificate was received for fishing in the East Sakhalin subzone. In September, it is planned to complete the certification of the East Kamchatka pollock fishery in the North Kuril zone and the Petropavlovsk-Komandor subzone.
"This work is based on the consistent position of the members of our association, compliance with the rules of fishing, support for scientific research and the observer program, as well as our internal attitude to the continuous improvement of practices used in fishing. In addition, we cooperate with the World Wildlife Fund, " Alexey Buglak said.
It should be noted that in volume terms pollock is the main commercial resource of Russia with its share in the total national catch exceeding 35%.