SADSTIA scores a hat trick!

Newsletter No.1 May 2015

The SA Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association, SADSTIA, is delighted to announce that it has achieved a “hat trick”, having received accreditation from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for the third time.

The MSC is the world’s leading certification and eco-labelling program for sustainable wild-caught seafood. In 2004 the South African hake trawl fishery became the first hake fishery in the world to be certified by the MSC as “sustainable and well managed.” The fishery was re-assessed and re-certified for a five-year period in 2010 and today SADSTIA received word that, after a rigorous 12-month re-assessment process, it has achieved accreditation for a further five years.

Read the certification report here…

Good news for South Africa

“The re-certification is an important achievement for the trawl fishery and very good news for South Africa,” said Dr Johann Augustyn, secretary of SADSTIA.

“Recent economic studies have shown that securing the health of the trawl fishery has prevented the loss of up to 12 000 jobs within the fishing industry and growing demand (particularly in northern Europe) for certified sustainable seafood products has resulted in the expansion of export markets worth US$197 million (R2.24 billion).

Economic studies have shown that by fishing sustainably, the trawl fishery has effectively retained as many as 12 000 jobs. (Photo courtesy of Sea Harvest)

Economic studies have shown that by fishing sustainably, the trawl fishery has effectively retained as many as 12 000 jobs. (Photo courtesy of Sea Harvest)

“Over the past year, an independent certification agency scrutinized every aspect of the management of the South African trawl fishery and once again found it to comply with the MSC’s main principles. These are:

  • a fishery is conducted in such a way that it does not lead to over fishing or a decrease in the stock;
  • fishing operations do not impact on the health of the marine ecosystem;
  • fishing is managed and regulated in a responsible way.

According to Tim Reddell, chairman of SADSTIA and a director of Viking Fishing, one of the advantages of holding MSC certification is that it has made trawler owners and operators more aware of the ways in which their vessels and operations interact with the environment.

“It has focused our attention on ensuring that we achieve the criteria of sustainable utilisation of the resource,” says Reddell.

Since the original MSC certification in 2004, improved fishing practices have resulted in major gains for the environment. For instance:

  • Trawl grounds have been “ring fenced” so as to prevent damage to lightly trawled areas and to protect natural refuges for hake. Trawling outside the ring-fenced zone requires an environmental impact assessment.
  • There has been a 99% reduction in the number of albatrosses that are accidentally injured and sometimes killed by trawl gear.
  • Clear limits have been set for bycatch species such as kingklip and monk − deep-sea species that are often caught in trawl nets with hake.
  • The industry is funding and supporting a ground-breaking, long-term research project that will examine the impacts of trawling on the marine environment. The research is being conducted in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the University of Cape Town and the South African Environmental Observation Network.
The South African trawl fishery has secured MSC accreditation for a further five years. (Photo courtesy of MSC South Africa)

The South African trawl fishery has secured MSC accreditation for a further five years. (Photo courtesy of MSC South Africa)

Excellent cooperation with government

Another aspect of MSC certification that is often overlooked is that accreditation requires excellent cooperation between industry and government. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has reaffirmed government’s support for the MSC certification of the South African trawl fishery.

“DAFF recognises the valuable economic contributions of the South African hake fishery to the country and is committed to ongoing collaboration with the industry to ensure continued responsible management of this important resource,” says Sue Middleton, chief director of Fisheries Operations Support at DAFF.

South Africa’s deep-sea trawl fishery is the only fishery in Africa to have achieved accreditation from the MSC. It is one of approximately 250 fisheries around the world that have been certified by the MSC. Together, MSC-certified fisheries currently catch about nine million metric tonnes of seafood annually – close to 10% of the total harvest from wild capture fisheries.

MSC to “pay back the money”

More good news for SADSTIA and its members is that 75% of the cost of the second re-assessment of the South African trawl fishery will be re-imbursed by the MSC.

This amounts to approximately R825 000.

“The refund is given in recognition of the fact that the fishery has met the MSC standard for over 10 years,” said SADSTIA secretary, Dr Johann Augustyn.

“Re-assessment is an expensive and time consuming process, but the rewards definitely justify the energy we expend to secure the MSC ecolabel.”

SADSTIA’s members are the 51 trawler owners and operators that deliver hake to fish & chip shops in every corner of South Africa; process and package fish fingers and other popular hake products for local supermarkets; and also supply a demanding international market with a range of value-added hake products. The prestigious MSC ecolabel gives SADSTIA’s members a competitive edge in the global market for groundfish.