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Russian Sakhalin Fisheries Crave Sustainability

Salmonids Sustainability +2 more

RUSSIA - The Sakhalin Salmon Initiative Center and the Sakhalin Regional Fisheries Association, which include 11 commercial fishing companies in the Russian Federation, have entered three pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) fisheries, called units of certification, into independent, third-party assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council principles and criteria for sustainable fishing.

If successful, products would be eligible to bear the distinctive blue MSC ecolabel. The fisheries entering full assessment are:

  • Northeast Sakhalin stock of pink salmon harvested by four companies, Lovets, Tamara, Dagi and Irida, in the Nogliki district.
  • Northeast Sakhalin stock of pink salmon harvested by two companies, Plavnik and Sadko, in the Smirnikhovksii district.
  • Aniva Bay stock of pink salmon harvested by five companies, Rybak, Taranai, Priboy Trade, Prostor and Compass Plus, in the Aniva Bay district.

The fisheries all use set nets and trap nets and they are managed under the Russian federal and state salmon management systems.

Among many indicators, the assessment will analyze the impact of new reporting procedures recently implemented to improve monitoring of retained, bycatch and Endangered, Threatened or Protected (ETP) species. Another indicator that will be examined concerns the changeover in the salmon management system from a TAC with specific allocations to one called an Olympic system where there is a total recommended catch, but not allocated by company. Russian managers predict the new system will be more open and transparent with less incentive to under and misreport.

The units of certification are located off East Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East, in FAO statistical area 61. The fishing season is July and August. The most recent total maximum catch permitted in the Northeast Sakhalin and Aniva Bay areas for the 11 companies involved in this assessment was 21,338 Metric Tonnes, divided among the 11 companies.

The main commercial market for Sakhalin salmon current is in Russia, and a portion of the catch also goes to the US and European markets, where there is increasing interest in product. A substantial portion of the pink salmon goes to China and Korea for processing, but only a small portion goes to China or other Asian countries as direct sales.

“Entering full MSC assessment is an affirmation of our concerted efforts to conserve and sustainably manage Russia’s wild salmon resources,” said Vladimir Smirnov, head of Plavnik Co., one of the commercial fishing companies entering the programme.

Howard Johnson, Global Programs Director of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, added: “MSC is the key to unlocking global markets for Sakhalin’s salmon fisheries. The MSC certification is becoming a ‘must-have’ for fisheries selling their products globally.”