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$16m export fish gets top sustainability marks

$16m export fish gets top sustainability marks

New Zealand hake, a small but growing white fish export to Spain, China and Japan, has received a glowing report in an independent assessment, taking it one step closer to achieving certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The MSC holds the world’s best standards for sustainably managed fisheries. Its assessment process, which is transparent and inclusive, requires all fishery assessment reports to go through a public consultation period before certification can be achieved.

While many overseas hake fisheries have been overfished, the MSC independent assessment has confirmed New Zealand hake fisheries as having well managed, healthy fish stocks that are harvested with minimal impacts on the marine environment.

As a result, these fisheries have progressed through the rigorous assessment process without any conditions of certification (areas that need to be improved). The report is now out for public comment as part of the journey towards MSC certification.

The London based MSC says less than 8 per cent of independent fisheries’ assessments in the past 15 years have been certified without any conditions of certification. Even fewer are assessed in the first instance without conditions of certification, as the hake fisheries have been.

The Deepwater Group CE George Clement says that quota owners are on track to having 80 per cent of New Zealand’s deepwater fisheries assessed and certified, without condition, as sustainable under the MSC programme.

“The value in taking this or any other fishery through to MSC certification is that it provides independent assurances to our customers, at whatever level of the supply chain, that our product comes from a sustainable fishery.”

The hake report was prepared by Intertek Fisheries Certification after assessing the fishery against MSC sustainability criteria in 2013.

Intertek has reported the large volume of data on the hake fishery is ‘a significant strength’, that ‘many of the operators and managers’ are the same as in the already MSC certified hoki fisheries. Intertek also complemented the value of the partnership between the Deepwater Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

There are three New Zealand hake fisheries; along the West Coast of the South Island, on the Chatham Rise and in the Sub-Antarctic. MPI contracts independent scientists to measure the health of stocks in these fisheries and these are assessed to be well above management target levels.

The current Total Allowable Commercial Catch limit for hake under the Quota Management System is 13,211 tonnes a year.

Once public submissions on the hake report are completed Intertek will finalise a report to MSC on certification.

ENDS

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