A New Zealand Good News story… Finally: Albacore tuna, New Zealand hoki and New Zealand southern blue whiting certified sustainable


My trawling of fisheries news websites has heralded a good news story for once. This one is about 3 New Zealand fisheries achieving MSC certification: albacore, hoki and southern blue whiting.

It is nice to see headlines like:

Asda MSC

Advertisement showing pride in having MSC Certification (source: Callander McDowell)

The certification of these three key offshore New Zealand fisheries (albacore tuna, hoki and southern blue whiting) by the globally recognised Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard was officially announced last Thursday Evening (21 Feb 2013) at a  reception held in  Kermadec Restaurant Auckland, that was  jointly hosted by the Deepwater Group, the Tuna Management Association, the MSC and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). 

The event included media, members from all major New Zealand fisheries companies, seafood buyers, MSC personnel, Ministry for Primary Industries staff, Staff from Seafood New Zealand  Deepwater Group. Speakers included Rupert Howes (CEO of MSC); Tim Grosser (Minister of Trade), Chris Howe (Executive Director WWF) and Ross Tocker (GM International Fishing Sealord Group).

Rupert Howes (Chief Executive of MSC) congratulated the fisheries quota owners and managers:

“I am delighted to be back in New Zealand and to be able to personally congratulate the New Zealand fishing industry on the certification of these three commercially important species. These fisheries have proven their sustainability credentials.”

“On behalf of the MSC’s global programme, I congratulate the hoki, albacore tuna and southern blue whiting fisheries on their MSC certifications. These fisheries have used good management practices to safeguard jobs and secure these precious renewable resources into the future.”  

“I’m particularly excited to congratulate the hoki fishery which has been certified as sustainable by MSC for a third time and was one of the first white fish fisheries in the world to enter our programme.”

The Rigour of the MSC Programme

All of the speakers at the MSC reception heralded the achievement that is meeting the MSC standard for all three fisheries entails (two of them without conditions: hoki and southern blue whiting). All of them acknowledged not only the achievement it is, but also how difficult the rigorous standard is to meet.

According to George Clement, Chief Executive of the Deepwater Group.

“These fisheries have been subject to rigorous, independent third party assessment to gain MSC certification. MSC certification independently verifies that these fisheries are being managed sustainably and to the world’s best standards”

“The rigour of the assessment cannot be underestimated. It doesn’t stop there either. There is tight policing of ongoing performance to ensure these fisheries continue to meet the standard.”

Content of the MSC Certification Programme

MSC’s science-based standard and certification programme is recognised by international environmental organisations including WWF, as the best available certification programme for sustainable seafood. Only fisheries that maintain healthy fish stocks, reduce impacts on the global marine ecosystem and have effective management systems in place are able to meet MSC’s standard.

The MSC standard requires conformance with three 3 principles:

  1. Sustainable fish stocks – Fishing activity must be demonstrated to be at a level which is sustainable for today and tomorrow.
  2. Minimising the environmental impact of fishing – Fishing operations must be managed to maintain healthy habitats and ecosystems, with retained catches, by-catches and interactions with endangered and protected species meticulously managed.
  3. Effective fisheries management and good governance – The fishery must operate legally and be properly organised to respond to any changing circumstances and maintain sustainability.

Each of these three principles has between 10-20 performance indicator or conformance criteria that must be met. Meeting the standard mean meeting the 80 scoring guidepost. a score under 80 in one or a few scoring guideposts provides a conditional pass. A score of below 60 in any one performance indicator or conformance criterion results in a fail. An aggregate score of 60 or under for any one principle results in a failure.

Simply put, only a fishery with scores of at least 80% on every performance indicator will achieve the MSC label!

As George Clement said:

“I commend the fishing companies involved for their commitment in seeking this certification. It is not easily won.”

NZ MSC Stats

17 thoughts on “A New Zealand Good News story… Finally: Albacore tuna, New Zealand hoki and New Zealand southern blue whiting certified sustainable

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