Russian Pollock Fishers Enter Assessment for MSC Certification

September 10, 2008 11:37

Seattle-The Russian Pollack Association has entered the full assessment process for certification to the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) global standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.  Members of the Russian Pollack Association will be assessed across two different fisheries: the Western Bering Sea pollock fishery and the Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery.

MSC runs a widely recognized international certification and eco-labeling program for sustainability in wild-capture fisheries.  In accordance with the MSC standard, the assessment will evaluate the status of the Russian pollock stock (Theragra chalcogramma, also known as walleye pollock); the impacts that the fisheries have on the marine ecosystem; and the management system overseeing the fishery. 

"We are proud that the Russian Pollack Association is one of the first Russian fisheries to enter assessment for certification to the MSC standard," said German Zverev, president of the Russian Pollack Association.   "We pay careful attention to conserving the pollock stock as a key sea resource in the Russian Far-East seas and to preserving the eco-system of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea.  Meeting the MSC standard is an excellent way to demonstrate seafood sustainability to consumers around the world, and for this reason we have chosen to aim for MSC certification."      

The Russian Pollack Association is a non-profit organization that assists in developing market relationships between its 29 member fishing companies and potential customers.  Association members catch approximately 54 percent of the Western Bering Sea pollock quota and 59 percent of the total quota for the Sea of Okhotsk.  These Russian Pollack Association quota holdings mean a total potential catch in 2008 of 700,000 metric tonnes of pollock across the fisheries being assessed.

Jim Humphreys, fisheries director for MSC, said, "Pollock is an immensely important species of fish in the global seafood market.  We welcome the two Russian Pollack Association fisheries into the MSC program and appreciate their goal of achieving MSC's rigorous sustainability certification."

Caught by mid-water trawl, Russian pollock is used for a number of seafood products around the world, including pollock roe, which is principally exported to the Japanese and Southeast Asian markets.  Pollock fillets from these two fisheries supply Russian, Asian and European markets.  Pollock surimi paste is also produced for domestic Russian use and is exported internationally.

Independent third-party certifier TAVEL Certification Inc. will conduct both assessments concurrently and estimates that they will take 24 to 30 months to complete.  As with all assessments against the MSC standard, external stakeholders will be asked to provide comments throughout the assessment process to ensure that all relevant knowledge about the fishery is taken into account.

About Marine Stewardship Council:

The MSC is an international non-profit organization that was set up in 1997 to promote solutions to the problem of overfishing. The MSC runs the only widely recognized environmental certification and eco-labeling program for wild capture fisheries. It is the only seafood eco-label that is consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and UN FAO guidelines for fisheries certification. The FAO "Guidelines for the Eco-labeling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries" require that credible fishery certification and eco-labeling schemes include:

- Objective, third-party fishery assessment utilizing scientific evidence;
- Transparent processes with built-in stakeholder consultation and objection procedures;
- Standards based on the sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices.

The MSC has offices in London, Seattle, Tokyo, Sydney, The Hague, Edinburgh and Berlin. In total, more than 120 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program with 32 certified, 79 under assessment and another 20 to 30 in confidential pre-assessment.  Together the fisheries record annual catches of more than 5 million tons of seafood.  Of fish for human consumption, they represent more than 42 percent of the world's wild salmon catch, more than 40 percent of the world's prime whitefish catch and 18 percent of the world's lobster catch.  Worldwide, more than 1,600 seafood products resulting from the certified fisheries bear the blue MSC eco-label.

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