MSC re-certification process enters its final phase

The Public Comment Draft Report for the South African Hake Trawl Fishery has been published for a 30-day period of comment on the MSC website. It is also available here and the MSC’s official announcement about the report is available here.

If you have any comments on the accuracy of the report or the outcome of the assessment by Intertek Fisheries Certification, please contact the Lead Assessor, Jim Andrews by 1700 GMT on 9 March 2015. Any comments should be supported by objective evidence. They will be documented and taken into account in the final decision on certification of the fishery.

Intertek Fisheries Certification notifies identified stakeholders directly through email. If you know of anyone who may be interested in this notification please forward it to them and notify Intertek so that they may be added to the list of stakeholders. It should be noted that because email is not a foolproof way of transmitting notifications, stakeholders are advised to subscribe to the free notification service provided by the MSC here.

A guide to stakeholder input to fishery assessments has been produced by the MSC. It is available for download here.

If you have any queries about this notice, please contact:

Dr Jim Andrews
 BSc LLM
Intertek Fisheries Certification Auditor
Intertek Fisheries Certification
C/O 58 Park Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 2DJ, UK
Web: www.intertek.com
Tel: +44 (0) 845-880-2540
Mobile: +44 (0) 7908-225865
Fax: +44 (0) 1332-675-020
Skype: jimwandrews

 

Stunning images open a window on the deep-sea world

Stunning images of the fishes and marine life living on or close to the seabed nearly half a kilometer under the sea, have been gathered by University of Cape Town (UCT) scientists working with a submersible camera off the west coast of South Africa.

The scientists collected the images in the first of a series of surveys that will test the environmental impact of hake trawling in South Africa.

Their investigations are the result of a three-year collaboration between the South African Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA); UCT; the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

Chief scientist Colin Attwood of UCT, led a team of scientists and technical specialists that included post doctoral student, Charles von der Meden (SAEON); doctoral students, Karen Tunley and Steward Norman of UCT; Driaan Pretorius, ship manager of Viking Fishing and electronics technician, Xolani Methu (DAFF).

“The water was perfectly clear at a depth of 360 to 510 m,” said Attwood, adding that the remarkable images of hake, jacopever, skates and an unusual type of “spiny eel” were probably the first of their kind ever taken in South Africa.

To capture the images, the scientists deployed a submersible Ski-Monkey camera mounted on a steel sled. The camera was towed behind the research vessel Ellen Kuzwayo at carefully plotted positions. At each deployment, the camera captured 10 minutes of still photographs and 10 minutes of video footage of the seabed and the organisms living on or just above it.

A Van Veen grab was used to collect samples of the benthic macro-fauna (invertebrates like worms, crustaceans and bivalves that live on or in the sediments).

From March this year, hake trawlers will no longer trawl in the experimental block where the photographs, video images and sediment samples were taken. The 6 x 15 nautical mile block is part of the trawl grounds known as Karbonkel, situated near the edge of the continental shelf off the Northern Cape town of Port Nolloth.

“The intention is to repeat the survey in subsequent years so that we can determine whether there is a recovery in benthic life,” said Attwood.

“With cooperation from SADSTIA-affiliated trawlers, the closure should provide an excellent test of the ability of the trawl grounds to recover. The surveys will increase our understanding of the biodiversity in this environment, and the effects of depth and trawling–related disturbance.”

The trawling industry is enthusiastically supporting the experiment, with the chairman of SADSTIA, Tim Reddell, saying it is vitally important for the industry to better understand the impact that fishing has on the environment.

“The more information we have, the easier it is for SADSTIA to consistently improve the environmental footprint of the fishery,” said Reddell.

“This experiment is just one of the projects that SADSTIA has initiated over the past ten years in an effort to meet and exceed the exacting standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The South African deep-sea trawl fishery was the first hake fishery in the world to be certified by the MSC as a sustainable and well managed fishery. It has retained this prestigious endorsement ever since.

Camera to capture the impacts of trawling

A team of UCT scientists equipped with a state-of-the-art underwater camera, is currently working in deep water near Port Nolloth to test the impact that trawling may have on typically trawled seabed.

The team, headed by UCT associate professor, Colin Attwood, and accompanied by an engineer from the fishing industry, is conducting its experiments using the South African research vessel, Ellen Kuzwayo as a platform. Photographs and video footage are being gathered near the edge of the continental shelf at a depth of approximately 480m using a newly acquired Ski-Monkey submersible camera. A benthic grab is being deployed to collect samples of sedimental biota (infauna).

The voyage of the Ellen Kuzwayo forms part of a three-year collaboration between the South African Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA); the University of Cape Town (UCT); the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). Its goal is to obtain a scientific understanding of the environmental impact of hake trawling in South Africa.

“Naturally, we know that trawl gear impacts the seabed,” says Roy Bross, Secretary of SADSTIA, “but we need to uncover more about the extent and consequences of impacts depending on the nature of the sea bottom.”

“In South Africa, hake trawling occurs almost entirely on soft, muddy, sandy or gravelly sediments and even though the size and weight of trawl gear is strictly regulated it is important to document the effects.”

The three-year experiment will allow scientists to compare photographs and footage of trawled and untrawled zones, and assess the characteristics of the seabed in both areas. In preparation for the voyage of the Ellen Kuzwayo, the trawling industry closed a small part of the trawling grounds known as Karbonkel for a period of a year.

“The experiment will allow us to get a better understanding of a specific trawled marine ecosystem and to assess the rehabilitation rate for fallow ground on typical trawl footprint,” says Bross.

Gaining better insight into the impacts of trawling will enable SADSTIA to improve its environmental performance. In 2004, the Association was among the first in the world to successfully apply for certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and it has retained this prestigious endorsement ever since. The industry body has also initiated projects to reduce interactions between seabirds and fishing gear, limit the industry’s environmental footprint and instituted new rules to better control the retained catch of monk and kingklip caught in bottom trawling operations.

“This seabed research is part of our environmental responsibility and an action that contributes to the retention of MSC certification,” said Bross.