South Africa celebrates MSC certification

The trawl hake fishery is now said to be South Africa’s most important commercial fishery. Photo: Marine Stewardship Council The trawl hake fishery is now said to be South Africa’s most important commercial fishery. Photo: Marine Stewardship Council

This year marks the eleventh year of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for South Africa’s hake trawl fishery, which has also just completed a third successful assessment.

The fishery became the first hake fishery in the world, and the second groundfish fishery, to be certified against the MSC’s standards back in 2004. Since then, the fishery has gone on to achieve a number of ecological and economic gains and is now said to be South Africa’s most important commercial fishery. Economists estimate that MSC certification accounts for up to 35% of the fishery’s current economic value.

“Recent economic studies have shown that securing the health of the deep-sea 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 almost US$200m dollars,” said Dr Johann Augustyn, secretary of the South African Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA).

Since certification 11 years ago, the fishery has also seen a number of environmental benefits, including the rebuilding of stocks, reductions in seabird interactions and improvements in the management of by-catches. The certification has also seen greater cooperation between the public and private sector.

“Initiatives such as the Benthic Trawl Experiment, and others, are not going unnoticed,” added Martin Purves programme manager, Southern Africa, MSC. “Certified hake is receiving increased attention in global markets and today over 600 individual hake products are sold in 42 countries around the world.”

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