SFP rules out objection to Russian pollock MSC certification

January 29, 2013, 3:22 pm

Jim Cannon, CEO of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) clarified the NGO would not be objecting to the certification of the Russian Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery.

On Jan. 24, Cannon told Undercurrent News that he and others at SFP were reading through the report, along with all the information the “Russian industry has made public on its website”.

Cannon clarified SFP would not be objecting to the fishery’s certification.

This comes after a press release from the SFP, in which it congratulated the Russian Pollock Catchers’ Association (PCA), but did not explicitly state that it would not object on any level to the certification.

“We are hopeful that final certification will come shortly, and look forward to working with the PCA and all stakeholders to implement the Action Plan for the Sea of Okhotsk fishery and progress assessments and improvements in the Western Bering Sea and Navarinsky pollock fisheries,” Cannon said, in the statement.

Sources in the US pollock business were cynical about the statement from SFP.

One said it reads like an NGO buying into the process. “What makes this any different from the statement from the Russian Pollock Sustainability Alliance?” said one, comparing the comments to that made by the large processors eagerly awaiting the certification.

WWF and US catchers’ organization the At-sea Processors Association are both stakeholders in the assessment and are currently looking at whether to object or not.

The MSC sent a statement to Undercurrent clarifying exactly how this process will work.

“The independent, third-party certification body, Intertek Moody Marine (IMM) has published its final report and Determination on the assessment of the Russian Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery and IMM concluded the fishery meets the MSC standard as a sustainable and well-managed fishery,” said the statement.

“IMM’s determination was made following a rigorous scientific assessment and the certifier’s determination was reached in accordance with the MSC process that includes a detailed assessment of the fishery’s performance against the principles and criteria of the MSC standard by an independent team of fishery experts, stakeholder engagement and peer review by two outside scientists who have expertise relevant to the fishery under assessment.

“The Russia Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery entered full assessment on Sept. 4, 2008. In 2010, the total allowable catch (TAC) was approximately 1.058 million metric tons.

“The publication of the certifier’s determination begins a 15-working-day period during which stakeholders can lodge a formal objection.

“If an objection is filed, the matter will be referred to an Independent Adjudicator (IA) for consideration, in accordance with the MSC objections procedure.  If an objection is not filed, the certification body will issue a certificate and the fishery will be immediately eligible to use the MSC ecolabel and make the claim that it is a MSC certified fishery.

“The objection period begun Jan. 22, 2013 and runs through Feb. 12, 2013.”

SFP and Russian pollock

SFP hosted the first Russian Far East (RFE) Pollock Roundtable meeting in 2006, and the Pollock Catchers Association (PCA) was formed later that year.

In 2008 a formal Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) was launched, with participation by leading seafood companies, PCA and SFP.

The fishery entered full MSC assessment that same year.  Key improvement measures included the voluntary reduction of the pollock roe fishery by the PCA members in 2008.

The following year, the Russian government introduced legislation that required all pollock quota holders to follow suit, and stepped up enforcement efforts. These measures significantly reduced illegal fishing, which together with other management measures, helped rebuild and protect the fish stocks.

The PCA formally joined the FIP in 2010.

By 2011, with strong encouragement from SFP, industry had effectively taken over leadership of the effort, and the original FIP was dissolved.  In 2012, several FIP participants formed the Russian Pollock Sustainability Alliance to support certification and improvement efforts.

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