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Hoki fishery commits to Marine Stewardship Council

15 March 2005

Hoki fishery commits to Marine Stewardship Council re-assessment process

The New Zealand Hoki Fishery Management Company (HFMC) will pursue re-assessment by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) starting this month, HFMC chief executive Richard Cade announced today.

“We expect the re-assessment process to take six to 12 months to complete,” Mr Cade said.

The process will involve a careful assessment of the fishery by an independent agency, as well as consultation with a wide range of groups, including government agencies, the fishing industry, environmental groups and other parties with an interest in the hoki fishery.

In March 2001, New Zealand hoki became the world's first large whitefish stock to achieve MSC certification. It is still today one of only 11 international fisheries that have been certified by the MSC.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent, global, non-profit organisation, which has developed a certification standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. It was set up by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Unilever in 1997, but is now run as an independent charitable trust based in London.

The MSC eco-label gives consumers the assurance that the product they purchase is the best environmental choice in seafood.

MSC certification is for a term of five years, with annual audits to ensure the fishery is being managed sustainably on an ongoing basis.

“Our first full term is almost over, and we are looking ahead now to the next five year certification period,” said Mr Cade.

Mr Cade said that the HFMC’s pursuit of a second full term under the MSC banner was evidence of the hoki fishery’s long-term commitment to sustainability. It was also a validation of New Zealand’s highly regarded Quota Management System.

“The New Zealand hoki fishery industry has worked incredibly hard over the past few years to mitigate the environmental effects of fishing for hoki, including the incidental by-catch of marine mammals and seabirds.

“We have worked on a number of fronts – from targeted crew training to vastly improved nets and trawl gear – and we have made major progress.”

Even the 1 October 2004 cut in hoki quota to 100,000 metric tons because of declining hoki abundance was evidence of the fishery’s commitment to “good fisheries management”, Mr Cade said.

He emphasised that since the quota cut, recent scientific assessments and fishing records indicated that the fishery was showing strong signs of improvement. The hoki quota, at its height in 2001, was 250,000 metric tons.

“Our industry has made some tough business decisions to safeguard the fishery’s long-term sustainability and this, along with our track record in mitigation measures, makes us confident of a positive outcome in our bid for re-certification,” Mr Cade said.

The MSC accredited certification body undertaking the re-assessment will remain SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) with its headquarters in Geneva (Switzerland). SGS is the leader in the inspection, testing and verification with 39,000 product experts and offices in over 140 countries worldwide. SGS Netherlands manages the MSC accreditation on behalf of the SGS network. SGS New Zealand operates from more than 20 locations nationally and employs over 260 skilled and qualified professionals providing independent inspection, testing and certification services to local industry.

Hoki is New Zealand’s most lucrative commercial fish species – earning export income of NZ$189 million in 2004.

ENDS

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