Global collaboration doubles sustainable fish catch – report

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Pole and line fishing

A new report published in London by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to mark World Oceans Day on Wednesday shows how effective management and improvements made by MSC certified fisheries are delivering measurable, positive impacts in our oceans, from reducing bycatch to advancing scientific understanding of marine environments.

Since 2010, the volume of global wild seafood catch that is MSC certified has almost doubled from 5% (4,541,358 tonnes) to 9.4% (8,821,221 tonnes) in 2015. Across 33 countries, 281 fisheries are now independently certified to the world’s most recognised and credible standard for sustainable fishing.

The 2016 Global Impacts Report provides a quantitative analysis of the progress made by MSC certified fisheries since the MSC program began and highlights the significant improvements made over the last five years.

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Norwegian cod fishery

“The MSC was established nearly 20 years ago to address the problem of unsustainable fishing and safeguard seafood supplies for the future. Our latest report showcases the results of the hard work, innovation andinvestment made by fisheries to achieve and maintain certification, and the positive change on the water the MSC program helps catalyse globally,” said Rupert Howes, MSC’s Chief Executive.

Reducing impacts

MSC data show that over the course of their certification, 94% of certified fisheries are required to make at least one improvement to strengthen or further monitor the sustainability of their operations in order to maintain their certificate. By end of 2015, 281 fisheries had made 876 improvements, with many more being developed.

The report points to advances in technology, research and management that are enabling smarter and more selective fishing In the southern Indian Ocean, for instance, measures implemented by the certified Kerguelen toothfish fishery have dramatically reduced the number of seabirds accidentally caught on longlines, with just three grey petrel mortalities reported last year; in the certified Louisiana blue crab fishery, almost 25,000 derelict crab traps have been removed, minimising the risk of ghost-fishing to vulnerable terrapin species.

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From improving harvest strategies to taking action to reduce impacts on other species, MSC certified fisheries are developing innovative science-based solutions to the challenges of sustainable management. The report shows how their commitment to sustainability is making a real and lasting difference to the health of the worlds fish stocks and marine ecosystems, said Dr David Agnew, MSC’s Science and Standards Director.

With sound management delivered through collaboration, stakeholder engagement lies at the heart of the MSC’s third-party assessment process. The new report shows 36% of assessments between 2012 and 2015 received input from stakeholders and 12.5% of comments contributed to a change in the fishery’s assessment score.

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