Deep-sea trawler-caught hake fishery has had MSC-required scientific observer programme called off. (Photo: SADSTIA)
Hake fishery will keep its MSC accreditation
Monday, July 16, 2012, 02:40 (GMT + 9)
Raised red flags have not managed to keep South Africa’s deep-sea trawler-caught hake fishery from maintaining its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation, the council’s southern African office clarified this week.
The fishery was up against suspension this month after Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson called off the MSC-required scientific observer programme necessary to ensure the hake (Merluccius paradoxus and Merluccius capensis) fishery’s sustainability.
Since late 2011, when the contract with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) expired, there have been no observers on hake fishing vessels.
"The bottom line is that it remains certified, although the audit picked up certain things, such as the lapsed observer programme," explained Martin Purves, MSC southern Africa programme manager, Business Standard reports.
The MSC, the industry and DAFF are planning to release a joint statement, he said.
"I’m not relieved, I’m ecstatic, but there is a whole lot of work that needs to be done," rejoiced Tim Reddell, chairman of industry umbrella body Fish SA.
Fish SA’s members were worried about losing the southern European market because of the region’s financial crisis, and because the fishery would no longer have access to the northern European market if South Africa lost its MSC accreditation.
Purves said that four new conditions had been added to the previous eight that South Africa had to satisfy to be able to boast MSC accreditation. The conditions include reinstating the observer programme and making the enforcement of rules and legislation aimed at maintaining the health of South Africa’s fish stocks more efficient.
The report issued last week by Intertek Moody Marine, which MSC used as an independent third party, looked at the fishery’s health during the period spanning March 2011-March 2012.
"So issues that came up since March (this year) will be picked up in the next audit and there are some red flags," Purves added.
Joemat-Pettersson had suspended this year's annual MSC-mandated observer programme. Her decision followed a dispute over tenders with a company that would have been in charge of the observer cruise.
Joemat-Pettersson's awarding of an ZAR 800 million (USD 96.2 million)- tender to black-owned Sekunjalo to operate the department's vessels for five years starting on 1 April 2012 was cancelled after the previous tender holder, Smit Amandla, took the matter to court.
Hake is by far the most valuable fish resource of the country. The main export markets are frozen fish to Spain; frozen fillets to Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Australia and the US, and fresh chilled hake to Germany, Spain and France. In the US, South Africa hake is often marketed as ‘Cape capensis’.
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