Lobster fishing is an important economic activity for the 800 inhabitants of the three islands, which are 400 miles from Chile’s mainland.
Currently, China and France are the main commercial markets for the lobsters, but the fishermen hope that the blue MSC ecolabel on their product, which demonstrates that it comes from a well-managed, environmentally sustainable fishery, will help them to access new markets.
The future welfare of the Juan Fernández islanders depends a great deal on the continuing availability of lobster, as it has done for the past 120 years.
The Archipelago comprises three islands, the main one being Robinson Crusoe Island, named after the famous novel, which may have been inspired by the story of marooned sailor Alexander Selkirk.
The awarding of MSC certification to the Juan Fernandez artisanal lobster fishery is part of Chile’s moves to a sustainable fisheries and is in line with the new fisheries’ policy mandated by Chilean Government.
The country no longer bases its fishery growth on increased catches, but on sustainable development, while increased revenues are encouraged by adding value to products, through certification.
Alberto Vergara and Pablo Manríquez , representatives of the fishery, said: "Obtaining MSC certification recognises the sustainable fishing practices the islanders have practiced over the past 120 years.
“The most important elements are traditional management, the use of passive environmentally friendly gears, and collaborative efforts to collect key fisheries data. The fishermen worked with the Government and the University of Concepcion, to create a continuous cost-effective monitoring program, which laid the foundation for this achievement.”
The Government of Chile helped the Juan Fernandez fishermen to obtain MSC certification, acknowledging that independent recognition of the sustainability of a fishing method adds value to a product and can improve market position.
Pictured above are Alberto Vergara (right) with Pablo Manriquez (left) and Heraldo Muñoz, the Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs.
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