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Only Two Per Cent of Reduction Fisheries Catch from 'Very Good' Stocks

Nutrition Sustainability

GLOBAL - Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) has released its annual sustainability overview of reduction fisheries. The review reveals that only 2 per cent of total catch used for the production of fishmeal and fish oil comes from stocks in very good condition.

Lucy Towers thumbnail

The report ‘Reduction Fisheries: SFP Fisheries Sustainability Overview 2015’ covers 24 of the most significant fisheries used for the production of fishmeal and fish oil (with a total catch in excess of 9 million tonnes) and rated according to the sustainability assessment presented on

The ratings are based on data publicly available in March 2015.

In summary, the report concludes that for the 24 stocks analysed:

  • Just 2 per cent of the total catch volume of the reduction fisheries in the analysis comes from stocks in very good condition (Category A). This corresponds to a single fishery: Antarctic krill.

  • Cumulatively, most (62.5 per cent ) of the total catch volume in this analysis comes from stocks that are reasonably well managed (or better) (i.e., that score 6 or above on all five FishSource criteria).

  • More than one third (37.5 per cent ; 3.5 million tonnes) of the total catch for reduction purposes comes from the 12 poorly managed fisheries (Category C) in this overview

  • Only 12 per cent of the catch comes from stocks that score 6 or above in all criteria AND the score for biomass is 8 or more, meaning biomass is at or above target levels (Category B1). This level of performance is in line with the current Aquaculture Stewardship Council requirements for fisheries providing fishmeal and fish oil for feed to certified farms.

  • Of the 24 fisheries analysed, four fisheries improved from 2014 and six had lower grades.

  • Five of the reduction fisheries assessed in the report have fishery improvement projects in place.

  • 90 per cent of the catch supply from reduction fisheries in the overview comes from either fisheries approved by the IFFO RS (International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation Responsible Sourcing) certification or from MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified fisheries.

  • The proportion of catch from fisheries associated with the MSC programme is increasing. 13.7 per cent of the total catch now comes from fisheries engaged in the MSC program (i.e., either certified or undergoing full assessment) whereas this figure was only 3 per cent in 2014

  • With the exception of MSC-certified fisheries or fisheries under MSC full assessment, none of the fisheries reviewed in this report consider wider ecosystem effects when creating management regimes.

  • The lack of publicly available fisheries data has been a major problem for SFP in reviewing reduction fisheries. SFP has identified five key data “building blocks” that need to be made public to allow an accurate assessment of a fishery but only 9 of the 24 fisheries studied by the report have all of them. Four fisheries have none at all.

Commenting on the results, Blake Lee-Harwood, Strategy Director at Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, said: “This report confirms that most of these reduction fisheries are relatively well managed but there is little room for complacency. More than a third of the catch going to fishmeal and fish oil has significant problems and this figure has hardly changed in recent years. There is also little recognition of ecosystem elements in the management of many fisheries and significant problems with transparency of data.”

He continued: “The fishmeal and oil industry remains essentially a responsible industry that works hard to manage stocks effectively but we need to see a concerted effort to raise the bar and boost performance. It is very heartening that there are at least five fishery improvement projects among the fisheries being studied and that the number of fisheries associated with the MSC programme is increasing significantly.”

The IFFO also commented on the latest findings, saying that there is more work to be done and that there needs to be a bigger focus on ecosystem based fishery management.

The IFFO went on to talk about the Peruvian Anchoveta, which is the single largest reduction fishery and was described as being reasonably well managed in the SFP report.

The Peruvian Anchoveta is regarded as well managed but has been downgraded by SFP due to concerns over biomass and percentages of juveniles.

Although not mentioned in the SFP report, the Anchoveta fishery was closed for the second season in 2014 by the Peruvian authorities for just this reason, only re-opening in April 2015, said the IFFO.

While it is important for fishery managers to control fishing effort, this is not the only driver of biomass level and it is inevitable biomass levels and percentage of juveniles in these types of fishery will fluctuate with variation in recruitment.

Andrew Mallison, IFFO Director General said: “These fisheries are increasingly important to the future of aquaculture, while we may not agree with every recommendation, SFP raises valid points. IFFO also welcomes the support that SFP have provided for The Global Standard for Responsible Supply (IFFO RS). IFFO members are committed to responsible management of the fisheries on which they rely for their future and are working with NGO’s, scientists and governments to improve fishery management.”