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Seafood species maintain sustainability tick

New Zealand’s biggest export seafood species maintain sustainability tick

New Zealand hoki, hake, ling & southern blue whiting fisheries achieve recertification
These fisheries are all recertified without conditions for another 5 years
Landmark third recertification for the New Zealand hoki fisheries, first certified in 2001

The New Zealand hoki, hake, ling and southern blue whiting fisheries have been recertified against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard, a global third-party certification standard and market-based program that recognises and rewards sustainable fishing practices.

The New Zealand hoki fisheries have been certified since 2001 and are the longest standing MSC certified whitefish fisheries in the world. New Zealand southern blue whiting fisheries were first certified in 2012 and those for hake and ling in 2014.

This marks the first time the fisheries have collectively gone through the rigorous third-party assessment. The assessments were carried out over a 12-month period by independent auditing body Lloyds Register (Acoura), attesting that each of these fisheries are well managed with healthy stocks and harvest strategies in place. The final public consultation period closed on 12 September 2018 with no objections and no conditions to the certification on any of these fisheries (Conditions are given when a fishery meets the MSC Standard but is required to make further improvements within the five year certification period).

“The recertification of these fisheries is a clear testament to the commitment, accountability and delivery of sustainable management of these fisheries by the industry and government in New Zealand. By submitting these fisheries to an independent and thorough audit provided by the MSC program (an internationally recognised third party with a robust, science and evidence-based scheme) each of these fisheries has established their ongoing environmental stewardship, allowing access to the world’s most discerning markets, with assurances provided by MSC’s Chain of Custody audits,” said Anne Gabriel, Program Director for MSC Oceania.

The volume of seafood available worldwide with the MSC label grew by around 28 percent in the last year (from 746,619 tonnes in March 2017 to 959,718 tonnes in March 2018). The global market for certified sustainable and labelled seafood is worth almost US$6 billion with more than 30,000 products around the world now using the MSC ecolabel.

“The growth is attributed to the MSC program being widely recognised as the most rigorous and credible science-based indicator of environmental sustainability and traceability in the seafood sector. A recent survey found that consumers in New Zealand, along with those around the world, are increasingly aware of their role to support our oceans remaining resilient to ensure the provision of sustainable seafood for generations to come,” Ms Gabriel added.

It is a testament to the combined efforts of the New Zealand government and industry that fisheries for eight species are now MSC certified (hake, hoki, ling, orange roughy, southern blue whiting, albacore tuna, skipjack tuna, and Ross Sea toothfish). This commitment to independent certification of fisheries sustainability places New Zealand amongst leading sustainably managed fishing nations in the world, alongside the USA, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Iceland, each of which has 50 percent or more of their commercial marine wild catch MSC certified.

“Achieving MSC certification recognises the ecosystem approach to fisheries management in New Zealand as embedded within the Quota Management System and confirms these fisheries’ contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Aichi Biodiversity Targets,” said George Clement, CEO of Deepwater Group, the client representative of the certified fisheries.

“The science supporting the management of these fisheries is both robust and comprehensive, meeting or exceeding the MSC requirements and providing consumers with easy sustainable choices by choosing MSC certified seafood,” Mr Clement added.

To date, 420 fisheries are engaged (certified and in-assessment) in the MSC program across 36 countries, accounting for 14% of the global marine wild catch. More than 1,200 improvements to fishing practices and environmental management have been delivered by MSC certified fisheries since 2000.

Fisheries are assessed by third party, independent auditors against the MSC Standard, which covers three core principles: fishery stock health, fishery impacts on marine environment, and management of the fishery. MSC certified fisheries are continually monitored and must complete annual surveillance audits, as well as being reassessed every five years

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