SADSTIA hosts MSC Stakeholder Council members in Cape Town

SADSTIA members were provided with a unique opportunity to showcase the progress they have made with sustainable fisheries initiatives when the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) hosted its annual Stakeholder Council meeting in Cape Town last week.

The MSC is the oldest and most respected seafood certification body in the world and the South African trawl fishery is one of the few fisheries in Africa to have been certified by it.

The fishery was certified as sustainable and well managed in 2004, and again in 2010.

At this year’s meeting, members of the Stakeholder Council visited I&J’s harbour-side trawling division, as well as the company’s bustling Woodstock Primary Processing Plant. And SADSTIA hosted a dinner for members of the MSC Stakeholder Council at the Granger Bay Hotel School Restaurant in Green Point on Thursday night, following the visits to I&J.

At the dinner, Chairman of SADSTIA, Tim Reddell, provided guests with a brief introduction to the work that SADSTIA and its members have done to address the impacts that trawl gear may have on the seabed. He explained that one of the conditions of the 2004 MSC certification was that the Association should assess the impact that the fishery has on the benthic habitat and the organisms that live on the trawl grounds.

“SADSTIA and its members have gone far beyond what was necessary to meet the MSC conditions,” said Tim Reddell, “we have improved knowledge, ring-fenced the trawl grounds, invested in on-going research and opened channels of communication between industry and the conservation community.”

Tim Reddell provided some insight into the ring-fence initiative, an undertaking by SADSTIA members to trawl only on currently used grounds, prevent damage to lightly trawled areas and preserve natural refuges for hake. He also talked about a three-year collaboration between SADSTIA, the University of Cape Town and other researchers to improve understanding of the environmental impact of hake trawling [link to news items on the seabed experiment] in South Africa.

At an earlier meeting, Tim Reddell described other responsible fisheries practices implemented by SADSTIA and its members, such as the mitigation of seabird bycatch that has reduced the number of albatrosses killed by trawl gear by 99%. He reiterated that one of the benefits of MSC certification has been to raise awareness of sustainable fisheries practices within the Association.

“It makes you think about how you interact with the environment,” he said.

A number of African delegates attended this year’s MSC Stakeholder Council meeting. They participated in a meeting of the Developing World Working Group and a special parallel session on regional certification initiatives for Africa.

The Developing World Working Group provides advice and guidance to the MSC on the challenges and solutions to overfishing in the developing world. The MSC is developing tools and mechanisms to support fisheries in developing countries to achieve the high standards required for MSC certification.

Fisheries leaders set their sights on a more sustainable future for African oceans (MSC Media Release)

New Chairman for MSC Developing World Working Group (MSC Media Release)