South African hake trawl achieves re-certification

Hake from the South African trawl fishery will continue to carry the Marine Stewardship Council eco-label after successfully completing its five year re-assessment against the MSC standard.

The trawl fishery comprises the inshore sector, which targets predominantly shallow water hake on South Africa’s South Coast, and the offshore sector, which targets mostly deep water hake, on fishing grounds extending from the Namibian border southwards along the Alguhas fringe.

Roy Bross, secretary of client group SADSTIA, said, “Initially we sought certification partly to celebrate the steady, painstaking recovery of domestic hake resources and partly because we wished to pursue a high sustainability standard for the fishery. We have seen, in the last five years, that MSC certification has other benefits: there is commercial advantage by way of access to other markets and buyers that place a premium on a certified product. Personally, the most gratifying benefit is the way in which certification motivates participants.

Certification raises awareness of all fishing stakeholders about the need to adopt best practices with a view to the long term future of the hake resource.”

Since initial MSC certification in 2004 significant progress has been made in addressing many of the impacts of the fishery, as a consequence of the fishery being required to fulfil management plans specifying measurable improvements as part of the certification decision. These include:

  • Improvements in bycatch management
  • Improved understanding of the structure of the stock
  • Reduced impacts on the benthic habitat
  • Stricter compliance monitoring
  • Significant reductions in the impact of trawling on seabird populations

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