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Pew began an email campaign to oppose the certification of the SE North Atlantic swordfish, yellowfin and bigeye tuna fisheries. (Photo: NOAA)

Pew's email campaign misleading: MSC

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Friday, August 20, 2010, 15:20 (GMT + 9)

The Pew Environment Group condemned a proposal last week requesting that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certify a fishery as sustainable despite it jeopardising vulnerable marine species like bluefin tuna, blue marlin and leatherback sea turtles. MSC responded that Pew’s objections should be directed toward Vice President of the independent certifier group MRAG Americas Dr Robert Trumble instead of the Council.

Pew encouraged its members to oppose the assessment of the Florida-based SE North Atlantic swordfish, yellowfin and bigeye tuna fisheries via a pre-prepared form email to Trumble. But MSC claims the email campaign gave its members limited information about the MSC assessment process.

The swordfish and tuna assessment has just begun, MSC said, and it is premature to make a conclusion regarding any aspect of the fishery assessment against the MSC standard, counting the effect on sea turtles from longline fishing and effects from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

These two issues are among many that will be analysed by the independent certification team during assessment. 

Fisheries participating in the MSC programme agree to be assessed against the Council’s environmental standard, which will consider the impact on sea turtles and other bycatch. Potential impact from the oil spill on stock health will also be gauged.

All assessments against the MSC’s environmental standard for wild capture fisheries, the Council told, are run by independent, accredited certifiers who gather a team of scientific experts with relevant proficiency and experience to review that specific fishery. In this case, the certifier is MRAG Americas, and Pew EG mistakenly identified Trumble, the lead auditor, as being affiliated with the MSC, such that any form emails received by the MSC have been forwarded to Trumble.

The fishery is assessed against the MSC’s three core principles: health of the fish stock, impact on the marine ecosystem and fishery management. Thirty-one performance indicators are evaluated across these three core principles; reports are then published at key intervals and peer reviewed by another set of independent scientists.

MSC said that conditions associated with previous successful assessments have bred significant improvements in some fisheries that have radically slashed impacts on other species, for example, the South African hake fishery, where improvements in fishing practices cut seabird bycatch from 18,000 per year to 200, the Council noted.

On 11 and 12 August, the independent team of experts met with the fishery and stakeholders to start collecting data and stakeholder input to use in scoring the fishery. The next step is for the assessment team to score the fishery based on these data. 

The certifier will then draft a report to be sent to two additional independent scientists to execute the peer review of the assessment. Following this, a Public Comment Draft Report, including scores awarded and draft determination, will be generated, upon which stakeholders will have 30 days to submit comments to the certifier.

Related article:

- MSC evaluates North Atlantic bigeye and yellowfin tuna fishery

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com

Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/NMFS
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