MSC welcomes New Zealand orange roughy’s brave move to enter assessment

May 30, 2014 16:28

Three of New Zealand’s orange roughy fisheries have together entered the lengthy and rigorous assessment process to be measured against the world’s most credible standard for sustainable fishing.

"A Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment is a highly transparent and meticulous process and I applaud any fishery that puts themselves under the microscope and scrutiny of the full assessment process," said MSC Country Manager for New Zealand, Patrick Caleo.

Ten years of work and a world first

New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) and the Deepwater Group (DWG) have been working together for the past ten years to better manage and rebuild the orange roughy stocks, and are now looking to measure this against the MSC standard.

"MSC assessment process uses science and evidence-based facts, no judgements are made about how sustainable a fishery is until it has completed a full assessment and then we let the science speak for itself," said Mr Caleo.

This is the first orange roughy fishery in the world to undergo assessment and will be measured against the same standard that every fishery in the MSC global program is assessed against.

"We have more than 300 fisheries worldwide engaged in the MSC program, which includes very small artisanal fisheries as well as very large commercial fisheries, and species ranging from short-lived species such as pink salmon to long-lived species such as toothfish;" said Mr Caleo.

How the fisheries will be assessed

MSC's standard for sustainable fishing is based on three core principles;

Healthy populations of target stock,

Reduced impact on the marine ecosystem (including bycatch and habitat impact) and,

The effective management processes of the fishery.  

It typically takes around 12 to 18 months for a team of independent third-party scientists to assess a fishery against the MSC standard for sustainability. There are lots of opportunities for stakeholders to input into the assessment process and all results are then peer reviewed.

If certified the fishery must also meet annual surveillance audits, improve on any conditions to international best practice level, and be completely reassessed every five years.

Some examples of what the assessment team, independently accredited, MRAG Americas, will consider are;

stock health and biology of orange roughy in New Zealand waters (Principle 1),

Impacts on the levels of bycatch and the measures in place to reduce bycatch (Principle 2),

research into the impact of the fishery in all areas including sensitive benthic habitats and how these impacts can be mitigated (Principle 2), as well as

how management performs, takes action, and is reviewed (Principle 3).

Orange roughy assessment Contacts

Charlotte Connell, Communications and marketing manager, Australia & New Zealand
Tel: +61 422 296 192, 

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