Sardine catch. (Photo: Stock File)
Portuguese sardine seeks international certification recovery
Friday, June 08, 2012, 04:20 (GMT + 9)
The international certification that the Portuguese sardine obtained in 2010 is suspended at present because of issues connected with the stock, confirmed this week the National Association of Fish Purse Seiner Producers Organisations (Anopcerco).
In January, the certifying body, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) decided to suspend the certification after finding out in an audit conducted in December 2011 that there are no sufficient measures to control captures of this pelagic resource. Such controls are necessary to maintain the resource sustainability.
Furthermore, the audit determined that the management of the Portuguese sardine stock is "fragile", as the mortality rate has been increasing since 2008 "due to fishing activity" and to the fact that the spawning stock has been declining since 2006.
Since the suspension of the MSC, operators -- from the production stage to distribution -- can not use the certification label on the fishing business transactions.
In order to secure the recovery of the certification, last April the Association provided an action plan with measures to be implemented until the recovery of the pelagic resource stock is proved, Diário IOL reported.
The actions that have been proposed are:
- The reduction of fishing activities;
- The limitation of the total allowable catch by setting a total quota of 35,700 tonnes for 2012, that is to say, 35 per cent below the 2009 catch.
The Portuguese government ordered a 45 day ban on fishing from 1 January to 30 April, and imposed a limit of 9,000 tonnes for authorised landings between the first day of 2012 and 31 May.
Until certainty about the status of the stock is noted, it is not possible to determine when the suspension will be called off. As defined by the MSC, this evidence may come from the analysis of the stock planned for July 2012 or from a later analysis in July 2013.
Otherwise, the suspension will continue until the expiration of the certificate in January 2015.
In July, there will be an audit to establish whether the plan was effective.
Anopcerco represents 120 vessels that in 2011 captured 55,000 tonnes of sardines, of which 17,000 tonnes were captured between January and May, and 38,000 tonnes were caught between June and December.
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By Analia Murias