Sustainable Fisheries To Benefit Future Generations

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
11 June 2010, at 1:00am

CHILE - Sociedad Nacional de Pesca has entered its Chilean Hake (Merluccius gayi gayi) trawl fishery into the independent, third-party assessment under the Marine Stewardship Councils (MSC) certification programme.

The assessment will evaluate the fishery against the Marine Stewardship Council principles and criteria for sustainable fishing and, if successful, products sold through Sociedad Nacional de Pesca will be eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel recognising products from well-managed and sustainable sources.

The fishery under assessment is Chilean Hake (Merluccius gayi gayi), using demersal trawl gear in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Chile (EEZ), FAO area 87, management areas IV to X. Demersal trawling is generally defined as towing the trawl just above the benthic zone.

For the pre-assessment and continuing into full assessment, a national committee was organised with representatives from industry, the government (Subpesca, Sernapesca) and research institutions with expertise in fisheries, including: Instituto de Fomento Pesquero, IFOP (Fisheries Development Institute); Instituto de Investigacion Pesquera, INPESCA (Fisheries Research Institute); Universidad de Concepción, UDEC (University of Concepción); and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, PUCV (Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso).

Companies involved in this process have fifteen vessels in operation. In 2010, the total annual catch quota of hake for this fishery unit is 55,000 tons. The fishing season extends all year, except for a biological closure between mid-August and mid-September. The most significant markets relate to the European Union, United States and South America. It highlights the frozen fillet sales to these markets.

Mr Héctor Bacigalupo, Sonapesca Manager, says: “We anticipate that MSC certification will bring a number of benefits to the companies involved in the industrial fishery for hake by demonstrating to the Chilean public and other stakeholders that we are managing what is a national resource responsibly, with catch and effort regulated to ensure not only conservation of the species, but also other elements of the ecosystem that are impacted by our fishing activities.

"Our priority as the client group of companies is to ensure effective management that allows sustainable fishing activities to underpin our long term business model while providing all-important employment and income to the coastal economy.

"We look forward to an MSC certification that confirms the positive achievements of all the hard work completed over recent years to change fishery practices. For instance: we have established annual fishing quotas; introduced annual closed areas to protect spawning stock; fishing vessels are obliged to use GPS; scientific observers are present during fishing operations; landings are verified; fishing gear has been modified to improve selectivity and allow juveniles to escape; and there is effective self-regulation by fishing companies. All with the aim of ensuring a sustainable fishery that will bring benefits to future generations.”